Wednesday, November 23, 2022

2022 Motorcycle Predictions: Revisited

Amazingly, this is the final predictions to revisit for the 2022 season. Each of the four sets have been picked over, from IndyCar to NASCAR, Formula One to sports cars. Now, we are onto motorcycle racing. There were a few tense championship battles across the two-wheel world this year. There were also a few first-time champions. Many races were compelling and there were ruthless battles taking place around the globe. We also got to return to some fantastic circuits after the global pandemic had prevented visits for the past two years. It was great to feel normal again. 

With that said, onto the predictions!

1. Two of the top three from 2021 do not finish in the top five of the 2022 championship

Two of the top three from 2021 finished first and second in 2022. Francesco Bagnaia took the championship on 265 points. Fabio Quartararo was second on 248 points. The two riders just swapped positions from 2021. 

As for Joan Mír, he had a rougher season. Six retirements and four missed races led to Mír finishing 15th in the championship on 87 points. Even if you adjust his points based on his points per start average, he would still be 15th. 

There wasn't enough of a push to knock Bagnaia or Quartararo down. Bagnaia overcame his own accidents to win the championship with the best bike on the grid. Quartararo dragged Yamaha to the front as the next best Yamaha rider in the championship was his teammate Franco Morbidelli in 19th, and Morbidelli had only two top ten finishes all season. The only other top ten result for Yamaha all season was Darryn Binder finishing tenth in the wet Mandalika round. 

Honda struggled as Marc Márquez continued to battle injury. Suzuki was all over the place after announcing 2022 would be its final season in MotoGP. All credit should go to Bagnaia and Quartararo for being outstanding riders and remaining on top. 

2. Álex Rins will retire from three races or fewer

This one was crushing. Rins started the season well. He was tied for the championship lead after the first five races. Then it started to go down hill. He was 19th in Jerez and he followed that with three consecutive retirements. That's it! He used up the allotment in the first nine races of the season! I needed him to have no retirements in the final 11 races for this prediction to be correct. 

He missed the German round but was back for Assen and finished tenth. He was seventh at Silverstone and picked up fastest lap. Eighth in Austria. Seventh in Misano. Ninth in Aragón. Things are holding firm as we get to the Asia-Pacific swing, which began at Motegi. 

Rins has a wheel rim issue and retires in Japan! 

Damn! To make it even worse, that was his only retirement in the final 11 races and Rins ended the season on a high note with two victories in the final three events to see Suzuki out of MotoGP. 

3. Aprilia scores at least 168 points in the manufactures' championship

Aprilia scored 248 points and finished third in the constructors' championship. It won its first race at Argentina with Aleix Espargaró, who was a championship contender until late in the season, ultimately finishing fourth with 212 points. Maverick Viñales was 11th in the championship and scored 122 points with three podium finishes. 

It was a great season for the Italian make, but results did take a step back in the later stages of the season. This was still a year to be proud of, but more strides must be made if it wants to contend for a championship. 

4. There will be at least one story about a Valentino Rossi comeback

We never really saw a "Valentino Rossi comeback" story pop up this season. Rossi ran the GT World Challenge Europe season and attended a few MotoGP races as team owner of the Mooney VR46 Racing Team, but he never was mentioned as a possible wild card rider for a round. 

5. American riders combine for at least two podium finishes

American riders combined for two podium finishes, but those finishes came from the same rider. Joe Roberts won at Portimão after weather interrupted the race and caused a red flag. Roberts was then second at Mugello. 

Cameron Beaubier had a few promising races get away from him. Beaubier was on pole position at Austin before being caught in an accident and he was contending for the lead at Portimão when he was caught in the rain and taken out of the race. He also finished fourth at Le Mans and had a promising season finale going in Valencia, setting fastest lap before falling out of the race. 

Rookie Sean Dylan Kelley had a tough rookie season, scoring only 5.5 points with points finishes at Portimão and the rain-shortened Buriram round. 

6. Jordi Torres wins multiple MotoE races

Torres entered the 2022 MotoE season as a two-time defending champion. However, in each of those seasons, he only won one race. This year, he didn't even finish on the podium and missed three races after an injury. 

World Superbike
7. Toprak Razgatlioglu will be responsible for 75% or fewer of Yamaha's victories

Razgatlioglu was responsible for all the Yamaha victories this season. The Turkish rider won 14 times, all 14 Yamaha victories. 

How close were the other Yamaha riders from winning? 

Andrea Locatelli was second in the second Assen race and third in the Mandalika SuperPole race. Garrett Gerloff had one podium finish, a third in the first Barcelona race. For this prediction to be correct and Razgatlioglu have the same number of victories, Yamaha would have had to won 19 races. 

8. There will be at least three weekends without a repeat winner

There wasn't one weekend where there were three different winners. This was surprising considering how quick Álvaro Bautista, Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu were and how close those three were throughout the season. 

There were plenty of weekends where it could have happened. Razgatlioglu won pole position for Aragón and Assen, but won at neither round while Bautista and Rea each split the races. At Most, Magny-Cours and Portimão, Rea won pole position but Bautista and Razgatlioglu split those races. 

9. No Honda rider finishes in the top ten of the championship

Honda had two riders finish in the top ten of the championship Iker Lecuona was ninth in the championship despite missing the Mandalika round. Xavi Vierge was tenth in the championship. 

It was a year when Garrett Gerloff underperformed with Yamaha. BMW had multiple rides miss time. Honda did make strides this season. Lecuona had a podium result, but he also won a pole position at Barcelona. 

10. One of the riders on the Suzuka 8 Hours overall winner will finish the WSBK season with at least four victories

The winning riders for the Suzuka 8 Hours were Tetsuta Nagashima, Takumi Takahaski and Iker Lecuona. Nagashima and Takahaski are Japan-based rides. Lecuona competed in World Superbike, but didn't win a race and only had one podium finish all season.

This was close to coming true. Jonathan Rea was second with the Kawasaki Racing entry alongside Leon Hasam and Alex Lowes. 

World Supersport
11. There will be a notable complaint about the new regulations
I looked and I looked, and I didn't find anything that would fulfill this prediction. Yamaha still dominated this season, winning 21 of 24 races, but Triumph won for the first time ever in the series and MV Agusta won for the first time since the 2017 season opener. There were a few positives to draw from this season. 

12. The championship will be undecided entering the final race weekend

Dominique Aegerter clinched the championship in the penultimate round at Mandalika. Aegerter exited the weekend with a 103-point lead over Lorenzo Baldassarri entering Phillip Island. Aegerter won 16 of 24 races and stood on the podium 18 times. He did have a suspect weekend in the Czech Republic when he was excluded from the second race after feinting an injury in the first race in hopes of drawing a red flag after an accident. 

Two for 12. That is bad. Very bad. We end on a downer, but there is plenty of room for improvement and the next set of predictions are only a month away. Let's put these predictions behind us and look toward the future.