MotoGP Valencian GP: Francesco Bagnaia wins championship, Alex Rins takes the title

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Finishing ninth, Francesco Bagnaia won his first 2022 MotoGP championship as Fabio Quartararo was fourth in the Valencian GP. Alex Rins won his second race in the last three rounds.

Bagnaia faces a steep challenge at the middle of the season after suffering four DNFs (failures to finish) in the first, but with beginning with his Dutch GP victory, he scored eight podium finishes in the next nine rounds. Five of these were victories, which allowed him to catch and pass Quartararo. A third-place finish in Australia, coupled with a DNF for Quartararo, meant the championship was all but decided when the green flag waved in Valancia, Spain.

Bagnaia needed to finish only 14th or better if Quartararo won the race. Without the victory, Quartararo could not secure the title.

But first, there was a race that needed to be run and there was still plenty of drama that included contact between the two title contenders. On Lap 2, Jack Miller completed a pass on Quartararo that brought Bagnaia along. The pass came with a cost. Bagnaia damaged a wing

Two laps later, Quartararo regained the position and rode fifth. The contact damaged Bagnaia’s Ducati enough to force him to slide down the order. He may also have employed a healthy dose of caution in the knowledge that he practically needed only to score points.

Climbing quickly to the lead after starting fifth, Rins tried to pull away, but the top five chipped away at his lead.

Brad Binder was able to make the race close in the final laps, shaving nearly half a second in the final lap, and finished less than 0.400 second behind, but Rins was able to give Suzuki their second win in three races in what will be the manufacturer’s final MotoGP race for now. Jorge Martin rounded out the podium with Quartararo finishing ahead of fifth-place Miguel Oliveira.

Bagnaia withstood pressure from Quartararo’s teammate Franco Morbidelli in the final laps as both riders finished more than 14 seconds off the pace.

Bagnaia’s first championship was also the first for Ducati in 15 years since Casey Stoner did so in 2007 and the first time an Italian won in 13. Mentored by Valentino Rossi, Bagnaia fittingly won a year after “The Doctor” retired.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.