Five MotoGP riders that surprised us during qualifying at Sachsenring

After dominating most of free practice at Sachsenring, Francesco Bagnaia proved too good for his rivals as he secured pole for the German MotoGP. But who are the five riders that surprised us?
Miguel Oliveira, KTM MotoGP Sachsenring
Miguel Oliveira, KTM MotoGP Sachsenring

With victories likely to be the only way Bagnaia can realistically bring himself back into the MotoGP title picture, the Ducati rider certainly made a good start to his bid of winning at Sachsenring.

On a weekend where there will be a new Sachsenring winner crowned - Marc Marquez has won every race on German soil since 2013 - Bagnaia is likely to face stiff competition from the likes of Fabio Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro, both of whom also qualified inside the top four. 

But while these types of performances are expected from the trio, here’s five riders who either exceeded or failed to match expectations. 

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Fabio Quartararo - 2nd

As stated above, Quartararo being on the front row is no surprise to anyone, however, it’s a result that looked unlikely earlier in the weekend. 

In both FP2 and FP3, the only practices where riders elected to do qualifying simulations at the end of the session, Quartararo was struggling to find the three tenths needed in order to challenge Bagnaia, but also other Ducatis. 

But that all changed on his second and final run of Q2 as back-to-back laps saw Quartararo pose a real challenge to Bagnaia. 

Fabio Quartararo, German MotoGP, 18 June
Fabio Quartararo, German MotoGP, 18 June

His final lap was good enough to secure second, but more impressively he got within a tenth of the Italian. Quartararo, who is at the top of his game, could have played another blinder after managing to secure a front row start on a weekend where he has the race pace to fight for victory. 

Fabio Di Giannantonio - 5th 

After his incredible Mugello pole in tricky conditions, Di Giannantonio has looked anything but a rookie. 

And that once again continued in Sachsenring as he looked set for another front row start before Quartararo and Johann Zarco set their best laps of the session to relegate the former Moto2 rider down to P5.

While it’s not the level of performance that’s necessarily a surprise from Di Giannantonio, the Gresini Ducati rider has out-qualified team-mate and three-time race winner in 2022, Enea Bastianini, in each of the last three rounds, which is a surprise. 

Who had a qualifying to forget at the German MotoGP

Joan Mir - 12th 

Challenging for pole position was never on the cards for the Suzuki rider, but it’s the gap from Bagnaia to himself that will be of concern to the Spaniard. 

The 2020 world champion was eight tenths away from the Ducati rider, while also considerably slower than the competitive time-attack effort he achieved in FP3. 

Joan Mir, German MotoGP, 18 June
Joan Mir, German MotoGP, 18 June

In fact, Mir was also slower than some of the riders that failed to advance from Q1, such as Pol Espargaro and the man who’s next on our list. 

Miguel Oliveira - 14th

Although qualifying hasn’t been Oliveira or KTM’s forte of late, expectations would have been much higher than 14th given the pace he showed in FP4. 

The Portuguese rider finished fourth following an impressive race simulation, and while that’s where the RC16 comes into its own, Oliveira qualified sixth at Sachsenring last season, a result that propelled him to go on and claim second in the Grand Prix. 

Oliveira did manage to out-perform team-mate Brad Binder, however, the former Tech 3 rider’s time was still over seven tenths off the pole lap set by Bagnaia. 

Enea Bastianini - 17th 

With Di Giannantonio showing that the GP21 still has a lot of potential despite the 22 package seemingly moving ahead of last year’s bike in terms of pure performance, Bastianini was unable to stop his disappointing run of form.

Bastianini was close to six tenths off his team-mate, who delivered a brilliant lap to end Q1 fastest.


It should be noted that Bastianini is without crew chief Alberto Giribuola this weekend as the experienced Italian, who has previously worked with Andrea Dovizioso, suffered a positive COVID-19 test before the weekend. 

Still, Bastianini would have been expecting a lot more at a circuit where other Ducati riders have been very strong. 

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