Fabio Quartararo leads as MotoGP hits the halfway mark of the 2022 season

MotoGP halfway mark 2022
Stiefel Udo / Getty images

Fabio Quartararo holds a 34-point advantage over Aleix Espargaro at the halfway mark of the MotoGP 2022 season in the senior class with Celestino Vietti ahead of Ai Ogura by only six in Moto 2.

In sixth, Joe Roberts is the highest-ranked American rider in Moto 2 with Cameron Beaubier in 15th and Sean Dylan Kelly 29th.

Quartararo got off to a slow start in 2022 with only one podium finish, a second in the Indonesian Grand Prix, in the first four races. Following the United States GP, Quartararo was mired fifth in the standings, but his win in Portugal the following round, second-place finishes in Spain and Italy, and back-to-back victories in Catalunya and Germany gives him a substantial lead through 10 of 20 rounds.

Espargaro owes his second-place position in the standings to consistency. He won the Argentinian GP and finished third in four consecutive races from Portugal through Italy. A fifth-place finish at Catalunya and fourth at Germany in the last two rounds account for a big part of the lost ground to Quartararo.

Meanwhile, third-place Johann Zarco is in danger of completely losing contact with the leader. Zarco is 61 behind Quartararo and in a series that awards 25 points to the winner, that means he trails by more than two full races with 10 rounds remaining.

The race is much tighter in Moto 2.

Vietti has three wins and podium finishes in half of his starts this year. Four of these strong runs came in the first five rounds, however, and he has slowly been losing his advantage with only one top-five finish since. The good news is that he won at Catalunya as his closest competitor in the championship standings, Ai Ogura finished seventh.

Ogura has one win on the season. His victory in the Spanish GP is one of four podiums finishes in 2022. His last two races have not been very productive, however, with that seventh at Catalunya being followed by an eighth in Germany.

Augusto Fernandez is only 11 points behind Vietti in third. Most of his gains have come in the final four rounds as he failed to podium in the first six. Victories in France and Germany, added to a third-place finish in Catalunya, makes him the hottest rider in Moto 2 as the series heads to the TT Assen circuit this weekend.

Five points further back, Aron Canet also has a chance to catch the leaders.

Joe Roberts may be deeper in the standings than he wants, but he has a career-first win at Portugal that provides hope for the second half of the season. Two weeks after that victory, he finished second in the Italian GP, but he is going to need for the riders ahead of him to stumble to get all the way to the top of the chart.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”