The fight to win the MotoGP world championship steps up a notch in Australia, as Fabio Quartararo now leads Pecco Bagnaia by just two points at the top of the standings going into the third-from-last race of the season. 🚗▶📺🥊2022 Australia MotoGP Live
Quartararo, the reigning world champion and the first Frenchman to win the title, enjoyed an 18-point lead heading into the previous round in Thailand, but endured a Sunday to forget at the Buriram International Circuit, slipping from fourth to 17th as Bagnaia came third behind Jack Miller and race winner Miguel Oliveira to set up a tantalising last few weeks in the 2022 campaign.
🚗▶📺🥊2022 Australia MotoGP Live
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2022 Australia MotoGP: Race preview
After his woeful weekend in Buriram, Quartararo gave his assessment of the race in a Yamaha press release, having withdrawn from his post-race media commitments.
“Rain fell at the worst possible time for us. We had not much wet track time before the race started – just a few minutes.
“The first laps of the race were really tricky. I was pushed wide by Jack in Turn 1 and it only got worse from there.
“I was trying to find a good feeling, but in Turn 4 I had a moment, and the visibility was really bad.
“I’m sorry for the Thai fans. I had hoped to do a better race in front of them. We have an idea why we struggled that much, but we will investigate more to improve for the future. We’ll try to come back stronger in Australia.”
Bagnaia praised his Ducati Lenovo team for putting him in a position to get on the podium and admitted that prior to the race he was in a pessimistic frame of mind due to the wet conditions, having struggled in similar conditions in Indonesia earlier in the year.
“Sincerely, I wasn’t so happy,” the Italian said. “This morning in the warm-up I started with the tyres I’d use for the race and everything was perfect, I was able to do a good pace.
“Then when I see after Moto2 race that it was starting raining, I was a bit upset. So, I had the luck [team-mate] Jack [Miller] came to me and gave me some advice.
“This is good [to have this relationship]. I hope with Enea [Bastianini] we can do this next year. [The advice] was more or less to believe in myself in the wet.”
The only other person in contention to win this year’s crown, Aleix Espargaro, was off the pace in Thailand, finishing 11th, and now trails Quartararo by 20 points with three races remaining in 2022.
Miller’s runners-up finish in south-east Asia means he and Bagnaia have taken Ducati Lenovo Team 75 points clear at the top of the constructors’ standings – making the defence of their title a near-certainty – with Espargaro and Maverick Vinales racking up a combined 321 points for second-placed Aprilia Racing.
Elsewhere, Izan Guevara will secure the Moto3 title with two races to spare if he wins in Australia, and the Spaniard will take glory if he finishes two points clear of rivals Dennis Foggia and Sergio Garcia Down Under.