The number of impressive MotoGP riders so far in 2022 goes well beyond five, however, on this list we will choose five riders who have either surpassed expectation or performed at a consistently high level.
Zarco, who is still to win his first MotoGP race, has once again been a model of consistency through the opening 11 races.
Third in the world championship and the top Ducati – that’s despite Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini both winning three races each – only Fabio Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro have had more top five results than the Frenchman.
While other Ducati riders have struggled to remain aboard their machines at various points, Zarco has been able to extract every ounce of potential from his GP22 on most weekends, without going beyond the limit.
4 – Marco Bezzecchi
Making it two Ducatis in a row to start off our most impressive riders of 2022 list, rookie Marco Bezzecchi has been everything Ducati would have hoped for and more.
Whether it’s qualifying or race pace, Bezzecchi has continued to grow as the season’s developed, which was highlighted by his second row start and maiden MotoGP podium finish in Assen last time out.
Bezzecchi’s performance was anything but a flash in the pan type of result, after the Italian also qualified on the front row in Mugello and battled with Quartararo for much of the Grand Prix.
3 – Fabio Quartararo
As the reigning world champion Quartararo was expected to fight for the title, however, the Yamaha rider has been truly sensational.
After a slow start in Qatar (finished ninth), while Argentina and America were also challenging rounds, Quartararo has since made his M1 work after every track despite it seemingly having more weaknesses than the Ducati and Aprilia.
It’s fair to say that Quartararo has made the difference so far in 2022, as no other Yamaha rider has claimed a top five, let alone a podium, win or pole position.
A first mistake in Assen has given new life in the title fight to Espargaro and to a lesser extent Bagnaia, but should Quartararo be his normal rock-solid self once MotoGP action gets back underway, then taking the title away from him is going to prove very difficult for his rivals.
2 – Enea Bastianini
An impressive rookie in 2021, Bastianini demonstrated the type of potential that led many to believe a year-two jump was coming.
But what Bastianini has achieved so far this season has surpassed even the boldest of expectations.
Winner of the same number of races as Quartararo and Bagnaia (3) – which is two more than Espargaro – the former Moto2 rider looked to be a firm title favourite early on.
Crashes have dented that momentum, however, Bastianini has still been one of the better riders this season.
Given the fact Bastianini is on the older GP21 bike which now appears to be trailing the newer GP22 package in terms of performance, there’s reason to think that recent crashes have simply been a case of pushing too hard in order to impress – Bastianini is in contention to join Bagnaia in the factory team next season – or attempting to make up for poor qualifying results.
1 – Aleix Espargaro
Of the current riders Espargaro headed into 2022 with the most MotoGP appearances without a win, however, it was clear that the Spaniard had a great opportunity to change that, which he wasted no time in doing.
The Aprilia rider has been nothing short of phenomenal during the first half of 2022 – more top five results than anyone else, five podiums including his superb win in Argentina after getting the better of Jorge Martin. Espargaro’s 12th season in MotoGP can only be described as a career-year.
Not only has Espargaro been our rider of the season so far, but he’s also produced the best Grand Prix performance in our eyes.
After being hit by Quartararo in Assen, an incident which resulted in Espargaro running into the gravel before re-joining in 15th, the Aprilia rider regained his composure to produce overtake after overtake, including a dramatic double pass on Jack Miller and Brad Binder on the final lap.
Espargaro climbed back up to fourth and now stands at less than a win behind Quartararo in the standings.