Bagnaia wins Valencia MotoGP, Rossi bows out with 10th

Francesco Bagnaia

Francesco Bagnaia has capped a stunning finish to the 2021 MotoGP season by triumphing at the Valencia Grand Prix on a day where the limelight shone on Valentino Rossi.

The retiring seven-time premier class world champion started and finished 10th in the final race of his remarkable career.

A standing ovation unfolded on the warm-up lap and post-race celebrations were almost exclusively dedicated to the 42-year-old.

His compatriot Bagnaia, who had helped Rossi with slipstreams during qualifying, made it four victories in the final six grands prix of the season after overcoming pole-sitter Jorge Martin.

Off the startline, Martin made a terrific launch to hold the lead from Jack Miller, Joan Mir, Bagnaia and Alex Rins.

Miller got a good run on the impressive Pramac Racing rookie to seize the lead into Turn 1 on the second lap but things would oddly soon take a turn for the worse for the Australian.

Having been almost immediately relegated to third with Mir also sneaking by, Miller then lost another two places – to Bagnaia and Rins – the next time around.

Monster Energy Yamaha star Fabio Quartararo, who has been quiet since sealing the 2021 title, then became the next to displace Miller, although only for a handful of laps.

A little further back, Rossi’s early rise to ninth had turned to 11th at the start of Lap 9 when Enea Bastianini made use of the Bologna Bullet’s straightline speed.

‘The Doctor’ would be back inside the top 10 a couple of laps later as Rins crashed out of third at Turn 6, the Spaniard visibly furious with himself.

There was finally a change for the lead just after the midway point of the 27-lap encounter when Bagnaia stuck his #63 down the inside of Martin into Turn 14.

Miller, who had been promoted to fourth courtesy of Rins’ blunder, put Ducati in the box seat for its first ever MotoGP podium lockout with a Turn 2 overtake on Mir on Lap 19.

That historic first for the Italian marque would indeed eventuate, with the top three positions not changing from there as Suzuki’s Mir faded.

All the while, man of the moment Rossi held his nerve, hanging onto 10th amid pressure from Franco Morbidelli as emotions and tributes flowed for the #46.

In between, Mir, Quartararo, Johann Zarco, Brad Binder, Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro took the chequered flag fourth through ninth.

Alex Marquez was the sole Honda finisher in 13th, LCR Honda Castrol team-mate Takaaki Nakagami having crashed out on Lap 5 and Repsol Honda Team’s sole entry Pol Espargaro ruled out pre-race.

In terms of the final riders’ championship order, Quartararo, Bagnaia and Mir had already locked themselves into the top three slots, while Miller did enough to hold Zarco off for fourth overall.

The last championship still to be determined – the teams’ championship – went the way of the Ducati Lenovo Team.

There will be two Australians on the 2022 MotoGP grid, with newly crowned Moto2 world champion Remy Gardner to step up to Tech3 KTM Factory Racing.

Results: Valencia Grand Prix

Pos Number Rider Team Marque Diff
1 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati
2 89 Jorge Martin Pramac Racing Ducati +0.489
3 43 Jack Miller Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +0.823
4 36 Joan Mir Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki +5.214
5 20 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha Yamaha +5.439
6 5 Johann Zarco Pramac Racing Ducati +6.993
7 33 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +8.437
8 23 Enea Bastianini Avintia Esponsorama Ducati +10.933
9 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia +12.651
10 46 Valentino Rossi Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha +13.468
11 21 Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha Yamaha +14.085
12 4 Andrea Dovizioso Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha +16.534
13 73 Alex Marquez LCR Honda Castrol Honda +17.059
14 88 Miguel Oliveira Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +18.221
15 27 Iker Lecuona Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM +19.233
16 12 Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia +19.815
17 10 Luca Marini Sky VR46 Avintia Ducati +28.860
18 9 Danilo Petrucci Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM +32.169
NC 42 Alex Rins Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki
NC 30 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda Castrol Honda
DNS 44 Pol Espargaro Repsol Honda Team Honda

Championship points

Pos Rider Nat Pts
1 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA 278
2 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA 252
3 Joan MIR ESP 208
4 Jack MILLER AUS 181
5 Johann ZARCO FRA 173
6 Brad BINDER RSA 151
7 Marc MARQUEZ ESP 142
8 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP 120
9 Jorge MARTIN ESP 111
10 Maverick VIÑALES ESP 106
11 Enea BASTIANINI ITA 102
12 Pol ESPARGARO ESP 100
13 Alex RINS ESP 99
14 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR 94
15 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN 76
16 Alex MARQUEZ ESP 70
17 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA 47
18 Valentino ROSSI ITA 44
19 Luca MARINI ITA 41
20 Iker LECUONA ESP 39
21 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA 37
22 Stefan BRADL GER 14
23 Michele PIRRO ITA 12
24 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA 12
25 Dani PEDROSA ESP 6
26 Lorenzo SAVADORI ITA 4
27 Tito RABAT ESP 1
28 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR
29 Garrett GERLOFF USA
30 Jake DIXON GBR

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