In what was turning out to be the most dominant weekend from any single rider so far this season, Espargaro’s attempts of converting pole into victory took a momentary hit as MotoGP champion Quartararo led into turn one. 

Behind Quartararo and Espargaro, drama unfolded with immediate effect as Francesco Bagnaia crashed after being hit. 

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Takaaki Nakagami, who made a fantastic start - was on course to exit turn one in fifth after starting 12th - lost the front on the entry to turn one before hitting both Rins and Bagnaia. 

Having done everything to put himself back into the championship fight following his Mugello victory, the Italian’s Catalan GP retirement is another devastating blow to his 2022 title hopes.  

While it was also disappointing for Rins who had failed to finish the last three races, Nakagami and his condition was the main focus after the Japanese rider hit his head very hard on the rear tyre of Bagnaia. 

On-track, Quartararo was putting on an absolute clinic. After inching away by a few tenths on laps one and two, the French rider started dropping Jorge Martin and Espargaro by half a second.  

Although Espargaro was going for a more measured approach in order to keep tyre life for the last few laps, Quartararo had no such concerns as he continued to push on. 

With Ducati’s afternoon already turning into somewhat of a nightmare, three-time race winner Enea Bastianini crashed out at turn five. 

With one Gresini Ducati out, all hopes of clinching a good result rested on Fabio Di Giannantonio’s shoulders, however, the Italian also crashed just a few corners after Bastianini [turn 13]. 

As Quartararo’s dominant performance continued, there was a tasty battle taking shape for eighth between the two factory KTM’s. 

With Miguel Oliveira looking like the fastest of the two, the Portuguese rider line-up a move at turn one before running very wide. The mistake cost Oliveira over two seconds to his team-mate.  

Where is Espargaro’s pace?

After getting through on Martin just before mid-race distance, Espargaro’s attempt at reeling Quartararo officially began. 

However, it was a chase that never got going as the Aprilia rider continued to lose time despite having a clear track in front of him. 

With nine laps to go Quartararo was still inching away as Espargaro surprisingly began to struggle - Martin repaid the favour by getting back ahead of him at turn one. 

Although he looked down-and-out when Martin got back through for second, Espargaro began to build a final challenge with five laps to go.

After getting a brilliant run out of the final corner, Espargaro slipstreamed his way past Martin on the approach to turn one, once again showing the incredible straight-line speed Aprilia has. 

Drama as Espargaro thinks the race is over with a lap to go…

With the race in a stalemate type of situation, Espargaro created drama by slowing down with one lap to go. 

But it was not a mechanical or technical issue, instead Espargaro thought the race was over as riders came flying past. 

As Luca Marini came through, Espargaro suddenly realised the mistake he made and got back on the gas to eventually finish fifth, a disaster for the Aprilia rider.