Quartararo Extends Championship Lead After 2022 Japanese MotoGP
Fabio Quartararo, one half of the ENEOS-sponsored Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team, rode with nerves of steel at the 2022 Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi. Under intense pressure in the final stages of the 24-lap race, he finished in a slightly disappointing eighth, but with his main rivals behind him, Quartararo was able to extend his championship lead by eight points. Teammate Franco Morbidelli’s ride was lonely. He started from P14 and maintained that position until crossing the finish line, adding two valuable points to his championship points score.
El Diablo started P9 on the grid and maintained his positioning through the busy opening lap. The first half of the race was a battle against Luca Marini for eighth, and on lap 6, Johann Zarco went wide, giving the dueling duo another position. With three laps remaining, Francesco Bagnaia crept up behind Quartararo, causing the Yamaha rider to double up on offensive and defensive maneuvers. The Frenchman didn’t budge and held onto eighth as he crossed the finish line, 10.93sec from first.
“It’s definitely better to gain eight points than to lose them,” said Quartararo. “Considering the circumstances. After all that happened, our potential to fight at the front was good but I couldn’t overtake where I needed to most.”
After the start, Morbidelli crossed the start/finish line in 15th position on lap one. From there he engaged in a battle and after various crashes, the pack split up, which became a lonely ride for the Italian. He continued to push and finished the Japanese GP in 14th, 19.012sec from the race leader.
“I lost a lot of time in the beginning because I kept having to go wide,” Morbidelli explained. “I tried to catch up with the group battling for 15th to 10th positions but wasn’t able to do anything.”
Quartararo’s lead in the championship standings is 18 points, with 219 points total; Morbidelli remains 19th with 28 points. Yamaha is third in the manufacturer standings with 221 points and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP is fifth in the team championship with 247 points.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP head to the Thailand Grand Prix, held at Chang International Circuit, from September 30 to October 2, 2022.