Jack Miller looked like he was racing towards something that hadn’t been done in 14 years.
Miller got off to a great start on his factory Ducati bike. He started Sunday's Grand Prix of the Americas at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas from the second position, but quickly got up to first place on Lap 1.
Miller led the race until Lap 16 when eventual race winner Enea Bastianini passed him. If Miller had held on, he would have been the fourth different race winner in four races in the 2022 season, something that hasn’t been done in 14 years.
Miller didn’t hold on though. Bastianini, the king of tire management in MotoGP, won by two seconds over Suzuki’s Alex Rins. Miller has had issues with tire management in the past and it cost him the race. He finished third after being passed by Rins on the final lap.
Miller’s podium finish made it 10 different riders so far who have been on the podium through four races. In 2019, there were only nine riders to get on the podium in the entire season! That season had 18 races.
Bastianini, of Gresini Racing, leads the world championship by six points over Rins, despite being very inconsistent. He won the opening race of the year in Qatar. Bastianini then finished 11th and tenth in the next two races. He is doing this all on last year’s Ducati bike: The Ducati GP 21. This means he is beating out the two factory Ducati riders, Miller and Francesco Bagnaia, who are on the current Ducati bike.
Inconsistency is what has made this MotoGP season great so far. Before this past race, Aleix Espargaro was the championship leader after his race win in Argentina. That win was also the first ever win for Aprilia in MotoGP. Espargaro now sits third in the championship after finishing 11th at COTA.
A few years ago, it was inconceivable that riders could be so inconsistent yet fight for a world championship. In 2019, Marc Marquez either won or was runner-up in every race he finished en route to a dominant sixth MotoGP World Championship by 151 points.
The days of Marquez's domination are over as a new generation has taken over the championship battle. The field of riders is as balanced as ever. There are 14 riders in this year’s championship that have previously won a MotoGP race, over 50% of the field. Therefore, the inconsistency ensures there are so many threats from all over the field depending on the day and track.
It is for this reason Miguel Oliveira is ninth in the championship. Oliveira won the wet race in Indonesia. He followed up that performance by finishing the next two races 13th and 18th.
Brad Binder is in sixth in the championship in large part because he finished second in the opening race in Qatar. He finished this past race in 12th.
The team so far that has been most consistent is Suzuki. Rins and his teammate, former world champion Joan Mir, have finished all four races, with neither having finished lower than seventh. Mir won his only championship due to his consistency two years ago. If Rins and Mir can stay consistently in the top seven, they will be in the championship battle to the end.
Formula One has seen its popularity skyrocket in the United States over the past few years due to Drive to Survive. Credit to Formula One and Netflix, they both created entertaining products. The politics and personalities make for great TV. The racing isn’t bad either.
However, the best racing so far has been in MotoGP. Because of the parity on the grid, there are great battles for the lead and throughout the field, and a lot of passing throughout each race. The same cannot be said for all Formula One races.
Don’t stop watching Formula One. Do start watching MotoGP, too. The racing is the best in the world of premier motorcycle racing series. Don’t miss out on a season that could be an all-time great one.