Today’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Misano ended up providing a stunning conclusion for the championship fight in MotoGP between Yahama’s Fabio Quartararo and Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia. Quartararo entered Sunday only needing to finish ahead of Bagnaia to become champion, while Bagnaia needed to outscore Quartararo by three points to remain mathematically eligible in the next round.
Bagnaia started the race from pole, his fourth consecutive pole. Meanwhile, Quartararo started 15th after his worst qualifying performance of the season. The Yamaha rider would valiantly fight his way through the field, getting to tenth by the sixth lap of the 27 lap contest. Bagnaia didn’t have things easier at the front. He was joined by his Ducati teammate Jack Miller in second.
Miller would crash out of the race on the fourth lap with a lowside that many have attributed to Ducati choosing to run the hard tire compound. Without Miller serving as a buffer to the rest of the field, Bagnaia now had to deal with Honda’s duo of Marc Márquez and Pol Espargaró. As Márquez chased Quartararo, the pair pulled away from Espargaró.
At this point, it seemed like Quartararo’s main aim was to simply minimize his Ducati rival’s potential points gain in the standings. By the time Quartararo reached fifth on the 19th lap, he was eight seconds behind the fourth-placed rider KTM’s Miguel Oliveira. Too far up the road to advance his positions and score more points. The course of the championship was now outside of his control.
However in an unbelievable turn of events, Quartararo would find himself finishing third and become world champion. Bagnaia broke free of Márquez and seemingly took complete control of the race. Then at the same corner and for the same reasons as his teammate, Francesco Bagnaia crashed from the lead to lose the race victory and end his hunt for the championship. Oliveira would also crash on the same lap to ensure that the Yamaha rider would stand on the podium for his title-clinching race. He would stand on the podium alongside Marc Márquez and Pol Espargaró who finished first and second respectively
In his 3rd premier class season, Fabio Quartararo has now become the first Frenchman to win the MotoGP World Championship. The 22-year old Quartararo was one of the most highly-touted prospects in motorcycle racing after winning the CEV Moto3 title at 14 years old and advancing to the Moto3 World Championship at 15 years old.