With MotoGP scheduled to return in a matter of weeks, Ducati held the 2022 World Ducati Week (WDW) at Italy’s Misano World Circuit on July 22-24, 2022. All the usual suspects from the Panigale, Streetfighter, and Multistrada families were in attendance, but fans filled the Misano stands for the Race of the Champions on Saturday, July 23.
With MotoGP talents such as Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini facing off against WSBK rider like Alvaro Bautista and MotoAmerica rookie Danilo Petrucci, the event wasn’t short on star power. As soon as the starting lights went out, Bagnaia jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
Fellow VR 46 Academy riders Luca Marini and Marco Bezzechi clung to the Pecco’s coat tails for the opening laps but dared not pass the Factory Ducati rider. By half-race distance, number 63 gapped the field and vanished into the distance.
Further down the field, Jack Miller, Enea Bastiani, and Jorge Martin circulated comfortably in P4, P5, and P6. However, Motorcorsa Racing’s Axl Bassani was the only WSBK rider mixing it up among his MotoGP rivals with a P7-finish. Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco and Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio finished the race in eighth and ninth position (respectively), while MotoAmerica contender Danilo Petrucci crossed the finish line in eleventh place.
Surprisingly, Aruba.it Racing Ducati WSBK riders Alvaro Bautista and Michael Rubin Rinaldi languished at the bottom of the standings. Both rode Panigale V4s, so the duo can’t blame a power deficit for their results. However, Bautista currently leads the Superbike World Championship (WSBK) standings by just 17 points. With seven rounds left in the season, sustaining an injury would be detrimental to Bautista’s title hopes.
For that reason, many Race of the Champions participants didn’t lay it all on the line. MotoGP Ducati riders Johann Zarco, Enea Bastianini, and Pecco Bagnaia remain in the title hunt following the five-week summer break. If the Bologna brand wants to capture its first rider title since Casey Stoner’s 2007 MotoGP championship, the team will need to stay healthy.
Luckily, Ducati test rider Michele Pirro crashed during the event. The rest of the competitors avoided friendly fire and escaped unscathed. Now, that’s the most significant victory in the Race of Champions.