Enea Bastianini secured a big win at the French Grand Prix after a battle with Francesco Bagnaia, which ended with the latter crashing out.

Bagnaia started on pole alongside fellow Ducati rider Jack Miller, and led for most of the race.

However, after working his way up from fifth, Bastianini overtook Miller and started making ground up on Bagnaia at the front.

The drama arrived on lap 21 as Bastianini overtook Bagnaia, before the latter immediately took his position back, only to hit the kicker and run wide, allowing Bastianini to ease back into the lead.

Matters got much worse for Bagnaia just a few turns later as he crashed out, seemingly trying too hard to make the ground up.

Bagnaia had finished on the podium in six of his previous 12 MotoGP races (five wins), though had not reached it in any of his three Grand Prixs at Le Mans in the top category, and that run continued this time around.

Miller came home in second to at least give Ducati something to cheer, while Aleix Espargaro held off a challenge from Fabio Quartararo to take third.

Quartararo had finished on the podium in his previous two races and if he had done so in France, would have equalled his best run so far in the top category (three podiums in a row twice).

Alex Rins and Joan Mir made it a weekend to forget for Suzuki Ecstar as they both failed to finish, with Rins crashing out early after losing control of his bike when re-joining the track from the gravel on lap three. Mir made an uncharacteristic error to also go down in the gravel.

Marc Marquez finished sixth and has now collected points in his last nine MotoGP races (including two wins and three podiums), which was already his best run since 2019 and the best scoring run of any of the current riders.

TOP 10

1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing)
2. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo) +2.718secs
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +4.182s
4. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +4.288s
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +11.139s
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +15.155s
7. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +16.680s
8. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +18.459s
9. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing) +20.541s
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) +21.486s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 102
2. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) 98
3. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) 94
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 69
5. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo) 62

Teams

1. Aprilia Racing 131
2. Suzuki Ecstar 125
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 121
4. Ducati Lenovo 118
5. Red Bull KTM 99

Francesco Bagnaia secured another lap record and so another pole position at the French Grand Prix on Saturday, this time leading a Ducati one-two ahead of Jack Miller.

Bagnaia had ended defending MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo's sequence of four consecutive poles last time out at the Grand Prix of Spain, setting a Jerez record.

The Italian protected that position to win for the first time this season and will hope to repeat the feat at Le Mans, where he was again dominant in qualifying.

Bagnaia's time of 1:30.450 edged out Miller by 0.069 seconds, with Quartararo – looking to become the first home winner in France since 1954 – forced to settle for fourth.

But the Monster Energy Yamaha rider, who again leads the standings, recognises Bagnaia and Ducati are doing something special in qualifying.

Indeed, Bagnaia has a leading eight poles since the start of last season.

"I was disappointed, but two minutes later I was happy," Quartararo said. "On the qualifying, we miss something – all the time, not only in qualifying. 

"Ducati is able to really do something crazy – and the riders, I would not say only Ducati.  

"But we are all the same in the race pace, so it's difficult to really make the difference."

Even so, Bagnaia believes Quartararo will be the man to beat, although he added: "I think after the modification I did in qualifying, I am more close now.

"But it's difficult to say now. The forecast says tomorrow it will rain. I hope it will not be like this, but it looks like it could be."

PROVISIONAL GRID

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:30.450
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.069s
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +0.159s
4. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.238s
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) +0.261s
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.413s
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.493s
8. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.527s
9. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.618s
10. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.698s

Francesco Bagnaia converted pole position at the Grand Prix of Spain for his first victory of 2022 ahead of MotoGP defending champion and season leader Fabio Quartararo.

After finishing the previous campaign with four wins in six races – his first victories in the top category – Bagnaia had endured a slow start this year, failing to even reach the podium prior to this weekend.

But a record lap in qualifying put the Ducati man on pole in Jerez, and he led from start to finish to kickstart his season.

Quartararo, starting in second, was Bagnaia's closest challenger, making a strong start and applying intense pressure for the first half of the race.

But Bagnaia was then able to open up a gap and enjoy a slightly more comfortable ride for his first win at this event, and fifth podium in his past seven entries across all categories.

Quartararo could at least be comforted by his now seven-point lead in the championship on a tough day for Alex Rins, who had been level at the summit but had to settle for 19th.

With Aleix Espargaro – now Quartararo's nearest challenger – completing the podium, the top three ended as they began, although the battle for third was a thriller.

Both Jack Miller and Marc Marquez, chasing his 100th MotoGP podium, got the jump on Espargaro early on, seemingly setting up a direct battle between the pair.

Marquez eventually got past Miller with five laps remaining following a stunning move at Turn 5, which he made stick despite the pace of the Ducati.

But that manoeuvre opened the door for Espargaro, running in fifth, to come back at them, and he profited when Marquez went wide at Turn 13 and required an incredible save to stay on his bike, catching himself with his left elbow.

Espargaro was able to build a bigger gap, although Marquez at least passed Miller again for fourth, delivering the drama that was missing at the front of the race.

Francesco Bagnaia expressed his delight after claiming pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix with an all-time record lap at Jerez on Saturday.

Bagnaia set the new mark on the Circuito de Jerez with his 1:36.170 lap in Q2 to secure a first pole of the 2022 MotoGP season ahead of reigning champion Fabio Quartararo.

Quartararo was denied a fifth straight pole in as many premier-class appearances at the venue by the brilliance of Bagnaia, who returned in style following a crash at the Portuguese Grand Prix last week.

Speaking after the race, a thrilled Bagnaia said: "I'm really happy. We did a great job. 

"I was missing this feeling to be really fast and competitive. Thanks to all the guys in my team."

World champion Quartararo, who won in Portugal to take the lead in the overall standings, finished almost half a second behind Bagnaia and could only applaud the efforts of the Ducati rider.

"In qualifying, he was incredible: he was half a second faster than everyone else, so I think he managed to put in a really good lap," he said of Bagnaia after the race to reporters.

However, Quartararo remains confident heading into the race on Sunday after securing what he claims to be a vital second position on the grid.

"I think it will be super important for Sunday. It's a great position to start from," he explained.

"For us, the pace in FP4 was great. I think we can have a good race and the most important thing is tomorrow. I feel very confident."

Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro moved ahead of Bagnaia's team-mate Jack Miller to take third, while six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez settled for fifth.

Fabio Quartararo insisted that his first MotoGP win of the season will not impact any decision on his future after victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday.

The defending champion had not won a race since the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last August, but eased to victory at the Algarve International Circuit, finishing more than five seconds ahead of second-placed Johann Zarco.

With previous championship leader Enea Bastianini crashing out in Portugal, Quartararo is now joint-top of the riders' championship standings along with Suzuki's Alex Rins, and was relieved to secure his first P1 of the year.

"It was quite a long time since I achieved the victory, I think it was in August at Silverstone," Quartararo said after the race.

"But also the tough times that I had this year. It was a short time, four races, but when you win the championship you always want to fight again for the championship."

The Yamaha rider has struggled in the early stages of this year, having finished second at the Indonesian Grand Prix, and no higher than seventh in any of the other three races this season.

"For me, it was tough to accept that I was happy to finish seventh in Austin [at the Grand Prix of the Americas]," he added, "because I improved a lot my race pace from the previous year [when finishing second], we have not made a massive improvement on the bike, we know what is going on.

"So, of course, it's tough for me to see the team applauding me for P7. In my mind, P7 is not good, but I was happy.

"But today to fight for the victory again was something special, something emotional because I have always said I will fight the same for P1, P5 or P10.

"And of course today it was much more fun, and that's why I got that emotional."

The 23-year-old has been rumoured to be unhappy with the pace of the bike at Yamaha, and while he believes his performance showed that the bike is "working", he did admit the speed is not ideal.

"I never the said the bike was not working," he added. "The bike is working in a way that when it's not working, you don't fight for this kind of position.

"It's true the bike is missing a lot of top speed, but in this track I was feeling not bad with the top speed because in the last corner I was exiting super fast."

Quartararo was asked if his victory will influence any decision he makes about his future at Yamaha beyond this season, replying simply: "No."

Fabio Quartararo won a MotoGP race for the first time this season, sending him top of the championship after a routine victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix, with Johann Zarco in second and Aleix Espargaro third.

Quartararo won the last Portuguese Grand Prix in 2021, although failed to finish in the top 10 in his other two MotoGP appearances at the Algarve International Circuit (14th in 2020 Portuguese GP and did not finish at the 2021 Algarve GP).

However, despite winning last year's championship, the Frenchman's previous race win was at the British Grand Prix in August.

Quartararo eased past Joan Mir early in Sunday's race in Portimao, though, and never looked back as he cruised to the win, while all the drama happened behind him.

Previous championship leader Enea Bastianini crashed out on lap 10, appearing to clip the seam of the curb at turn eight before sliding off the track while in 10th place.

Mir was left fighting for second place and was eventually overtaken by a determined Zarco, but things were to get worse for the Spaniard as Jack Miller, while attempting to pass on the inside, slid his bike and took both of them out of the race at the start of lap 16.

Mir has now gone six races in a row without a podium, which was already his worst run in MotoGP since his first 20 races in the top category between 2019 and 2020.

It was a performance to remember from Alex Rins, though, as he took his Suzuki from 23rd all the way up to fourth, making up a remarkable 13 places on the opening lap alone.

Elsewhere, there was some good old-fashioned racing between the Marquez brothers near the end of the race, with Marc ultimately getting the better of Alex to take sixth place.

TOP 10

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha)
2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +5.409
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +6.068
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +9.633
5. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +13.573
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +16.163
7. Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) +16.183
8. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo) +16.511
9. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +16.769
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) +18.063

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 69
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 69
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 66
4. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 61
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 51

Teams

1. Suzuki Ecstar 115
2. Aprilia Racing 91
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 86
4. Red Bull KTM 81
5. Pramac Racing 79

Enea Bastianini recorded his second victory of the 2022 MotoGP campaign, beating Alex Rins and Jack Miller to win the Grand Prix of the Americas in Houston, Texas.

The Italian became the first rider to rack up two victories this term after starting fifth on the grid, overtaking Miller with five laps to go in a fiercely competitive race.

The 24-year-old, who claimed his first MotoGP win in Qatar's curtain-raising race last month, made a strong start to fight his way into contention early on, entering second spot with nine laps to go.

Bastianini then passed Miller and pulled clear of the Australian, who dropped into third as Alex Rins clinched a second consecutive podium finish, keeping him second in the drivers' championship standings.

The Gresini rider ended the race 2.058 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, maintaining his lead at the top of the early-season riders' standings.

Elsewhere, Jorge Martin made a solid start from pole position, but suffered a poor end to the race in which he dropped to fourth with eight laps to go, and to eighth by the time he saw the chequered flag.

Marc Marquez suffered a horrendous start in Texas, dropping as low as 17th in the early stages, but recovered somewhat to finish sixth, while Joan Mir and Francesco Bagnaia rounded out the top five.

World champion Fabio Quartararo, meanwhile, finished in seventh as he struggles to match his terrific early-season form from 2021, and Aleix Espargaro could only manage a 13th-placed finish, one week after his sensational maiden victory in Argentina.

TOP 10

1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini)
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +2.058
3. Jack Miller (Ducati) +2.312
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +3.975
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +6.045
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +6.617
7. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +6.760
8. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +8.441
9. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +12.375
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +12.642

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 61
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 56
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 50
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)) 46
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 44

Teams

1. Suzuki Ecstar 102
2. Red Bull KTM 70
3. Aprilia 69
4. Gresini 61
5. Pramac Racing 59

Jorge Martin led the first ever Ducati quintet in a stunning MotoGP qualifying, finishing top of the time sheets at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday.

Martin's pole was enough to set a new all-time MotoGP lap record around COTA, while also keeping his front-row start record in 2022 unblemished.

Jack Miller shot to the top of the order, clearing Ducati factory teammate Francesco Bagnaia and it looked good enough to secure pole for the Australian at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Enter the qualifying specialist Martin, however, gaining close to two tenths in the final sector on his way to setting a new all-time lap record at COTA by just three thousandths of a second.

Seven-time pole winner at this track and dubbed the King of COTA, Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez made an error on his final lap in Q3, meaning a starting position of ninth – his worst qualifying result in Austin.

Behind the top three of Martin, Miller and Bagnaia to clear out the front row for Ducati was the second Pramac bike of Johann Zarco, who finished over five tenths off Martin's pole time.

Reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo was in a decent rhythm in the early stages of qualifying, but slid his Yamaha off at the penultimate corner.

He was able to get back out onto a second bike, but was nearly sixth tenths off the eventual pace in sixth, the only Yamaha in the top 12 qualifiers.

Pole and race winner at the Argentine Grand Prix last weekend, Aleix Espargaro will be heading from row fourth row in 13th, just missing out on the final qualifying session.

Provisional classification

1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) 2:02.029
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.003s
3. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.128
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) +0.531
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati) +0.539
6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha) +0.595
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.655
8. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.908
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.999
10. Takami Nakagami (LCR Honda) +1.015
11. Luca Marini (Mooney Ducati) +1.020
12. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +1.057

 

Aleix Espargaro held off Jorge Martin in Argentina to land the first MotoGP win of his career – Aprilia's first race victory since the team's 2015 return.

The 32-year-old Espargaro had claimed Aprilia's first pole position with an impressive qualifying performance in Termas de Rio Hondo, and followed up to claim a long-awaited grand prix win in a thrilling race.

Espargaro landed the landmark victory on his 200th MotoGP start, and he had to be at his best to overcome compatriot Martin in an absorbing contest.

It was not plain sailing for Espargaro after his slow start allowed Martin to snatch an early advantage, which he maintained for 17 of 25 laps.

Martin, who crashed out of races in Qatar and Indonesia during his nightmare start to the season, lost the lead to Espargaro on the fifth turn of lap 18 but forced his way back to the front of the pack shortly thereafter.

Espargaro then passed Martin again at the same point of lap 21, holding on during a nervy ending to secure the triumph by 0.807 seconds.

Alex Rins finished third and Joan Mir recovered from an eighth-placed start to grab fourth place, meaning Spanish riders occupied each of the top four positions in Argentina.

Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo dropped as low as 13th during the early stages but recovered to finish comfortably inside the top 10.

Enea Bastianini, who stormed to a thrilling success in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix last month, could only manage 10th, ceding first place in the riders' championship to Espargaro, who now leads the championship for the first time in his career, sitting seven points clear of Red Bull's Brad Binder.

TOP 10 

1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia)
2. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.807
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.330
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.831
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +5.840
6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +6.192
7. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +6.540
8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +10.215
9. Marco Bezzecchi (Team VR46) +12.622
10. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) +12.987

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders
1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 45
2. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) 38
3. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 36
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 36
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 35

Teams
1. Suzuki Ecstar 69
2. Red Bull KTM 66
3. Aprilia 58
4. Monster Energy Yamaha 49
5. Pramac Racing 44

Miguel Oliveira described his victory in Indonesia as an emotional rollercoaster as the Red Bull KTM rider triumphed in tricky conditions.

Oliveira finished more than two seconds clear of world champion Fabio Quartararo in a curtailed race at the Mandalika International Street Circuit, which started over an hour late due to torrential rain.

Quartararo qualified in pole position but was passed by Oliveira and Jack Miller, who held the early lead before the Portuguese made the most of superior pace.

The 27-year-old then navigated the wet track superbly to claim a fourth race win in MotoGP and back up his claims in the build-up that he can compete for the title.

"Emotionally, it was a rollercoaster," he said in parc ferme. "The start was perfect and in wet conditions, it is so difficult to find the limit.

"I followed Jack and knew I could be faster. I opened [a gap] and then it was a matter of managing it to the end.

"It hasn't been easy, the last few months haven't been easy for me. I promised my daughter I'd get a trophy in Indonesia – this one's for you.

"Let's go to Argentina, let's see what we can do, but now I'm really happy to be here."

Quartararo dropped to fifth before a supreme ride in the second half of the race saw him end a run of four consecutive non-podium finishes.

The Monster Energy Yamaha star felt the points could prove valuable come the business end of the season.

"I didn't expect it," he said. "Honestly, since the warm-up, I felt that we had something more than usual because we know that with wet conditions we always have more difficulties.

"When it's completely wet and with traction, I know my potential, but today I was better than I expected. I saw an opportunity and took it.

"These are super important points. It was my first podium with a full wet floor."

Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo says he felt the best he has for "a long time" after storming to pole position in qualifying for Sunday's Indonesian Grand Prix.

The 22-year-old edged out Jorge Martin with a lap of 1:31.067 on Saturday, securing a place at the front of the grid for the first time since the Catalan Grand Prix in June last year.

Quartararo's compatriot Johann Zarco will join the duo on the front row after posting a personal best time on his final lap, with Brad Binder and Enea Bastianini, the latter fresh from his maiden MotoGP victory in Qatar two weeks ago, both doing likewise to qualify as fourth and fifth fastest.

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez, meanwhile, crashed twice and will start from 14th as Honda experienced problems with their tyres in the heat.

"I felt great, finally on one lap, it's a long time since I felt so good," Quartararo, who came a disappointing ninth in Qatar, told reporters.

"Here I felt good from FP2 when I put in the soft rear and actually in FP4, I'm super happy because I made 15, 14 laps in a row and the pace was really good. 

"I think it was the most important thing to make those laps in a row and see the consistency of the tyres.

'I'm pretty happy, I expected much more drop from the rear and I feel great."

"With our bike we struggle quite a lot to overtake and then I think you need to play a little bit with the pressure before the start," he said, as reported by Autosport.

"But in this kind of track, where it's hot, it's always better to start at the front than on the back.

"So, I feel like it's a great track to start from the front row and let's see how my start goes."

Provisional classification

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 1:31.067
2. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.213
3. Johann Zarco (Ducati) +0.311
4. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +0.366
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) +0.437
6. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.440
7. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +0.499
8. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.515
9. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.647
10. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.656
11. Fabio di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing) +0.762
12. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.507

Fabio Quartararo is "living the dream" after becoming the first Frenchman to win the MotoGP title following an eventful Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The 22-year-old, who is competing in just his third season, was crowned 2021 world champion after closest challenger Francesco Bagnaia crashed out of Sunday's race.

Bagnaia started from pole and was leading with five laps to go, only to come off his bike and effectively end his chances of catching Quartararo in the drivers' standings with two grands prix remaining.

Yamaha rider Quartararo still had to see out the race to pick up the three points needed to seal top spot and did that with a fourth-placed finish in Italy.

Quartararo's triumph, which ends Yamaha's six-year wait for a title, was achieved the hard way as he started the race in 15th after his worst ever qualifying session on Saturday.

He gradually made his way through the field after a slow start that saw him drop two more places, yet he was still fifth when Bagnaia crashed.

The Frenchman said on the eve of the race he expected the title battle to continue into the Grande Premio do Algarve next month and he felt the pressure at the start line.

"It was tough for me because I made a really bad start and I never experienced a MotoGP start at that far back," he said. 

"I think our front tyre pressure goes so much up [in a pack]. When I braked, I had a lot of moments almost crashing, so to be close to the podium was amazing.

"It was a new experience, and also with the pressure of the championship I was feeling really bad this morning.

"Let's say I had pain in the belly, it is the first time that I found it difficult to eat before the race, so it was a big day and we managed to be world champion.

"After this I think the weight of trying to be world champion, from now, will totally lose the pressure and I can enjoy the two last races."

Bagnaia had just stretched away from eventual race winner Marc Marquez when he crashed and cut a desolate figure at the end of the race.

The Italian, who was one of the first to congratulate Quartararo, denied losing focus with the winning line in sight and also backed the call to use hard front tyres.

That was a decision that also cost Ducati team-mate Jack Miller, who crashed early on at the same corner as Bagnaia.

"Medium for me was worse than soft; soft was already on the limit yesterday and this morning, so the hard was the correct choice," Bagnaia said.

"The only thing is with the hard you just need to push every single lap like hell, to let the tyre be hot.

"As for the crash, that was not because I lost concentration. I was pushing – it was winning or gravel, and I tried all to achieve this win.

"I'm happy about my performance. Of course I'm a bit frustrated about the result because I think we were deserving of more.

"But we just try to be always more competitive, and for next year we are for sure in a good way."

Fabio Quartararo has been crowned 2021 MotoGP world champion for a first time following a dramatic conclusion to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that saw title rival Francesco Bagnaia crash out.

Yamaha rider Quartararo had to outscore Bagnaia by three points in Sunday's race to bring an end to the title battle with two races to go, but a career-worst finish of 15th in qualifying meant the Frenchman had plenty of work to do.

The 22-year-old gradually climbed the field after a slow start that saw him drop two more places, yet he was still fifth, well off leader Bagnaia, with five laps to go in Italy.

Then came an incredible moment as Bagnaia, on course for a third victory in four races, lost the front of the Desmosedici into turn 15 to effectively hand Quartararo the title – and a first for Yamaha since 2015.

Quartararo continued his ascent into third place before dropping behind Enea Bastianini into his eventual final position of fourth, with Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro leading a one-two for Repsol Honda.

It is a second successive triumph for Marquez on the back of his victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Bagnaia's Ducati team-mate Jack Miller, who started in second, had earlier crashed out in a drama-filled race, while Valentino Rossi battled to 10th in his final race on home soil.

Francesco Bagnaia's gameplan will remain the same in Sunday's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, despite Fabio Quartararo starting the race down in 15th after struggling in qualifying.

Quartararo leads Bagnaia by 52 points with three races left and will be crowned 2021 MotoGP champion this weekend should he outscore his title rival by three points.

However, the Yamaha rider has his work cut out on Sunday as tough conditions at the Misano Circuit meant he failed to qualify for Q2 for the first time in his MotoGP career.

The Frenchman's best lap would have had him in 13th, but that was voided and he now has 14 places to make up on Bagnaia if he is to come out on top.

Bagnaia had no such trouble in both qualifying sessions, setting the fastest time in both en route to claiming his fourth successive pole.

And the Ducati rider intends to pick up from where he left off by going all out for victory on Sunday and claiming a third triumph in four races to keep the title race alive.

"I was needing to push if he was starting Q2, and I have to push the same now he's 15th," Bagnaia said. 

"The only thing that I can do to leave open the title championship is to try to win tomorrow. The objective would be the same even if Fabio was starting further in front."

Quartararo has only been off the front row once this season, when starting fifth in Qatar, and he doubts the title will be won for at least another week as a result of Saturday's setback. 

"Of course it's a tough situation for me," he said. "To be honest, I have not thought about the championship, because he is P1 and I'm P13 or P15.

"But he has the pressure, it's not only me. He has the pressure to do well, and maybe he will make a mistake. I don't wish him that, but it's something that we will see.

"My feeling is that if everything is normal, we will fight [to decided the title next time] in Portimao."

The front row is dominated by Dacia as Luca Marini finished qualifying in third and Jack Miller second, the latter just 0.025 seconds behind team-mate Bagnaia.

With Quartararo so far down the grid, it sets up the possibility of Miller potentially being given room to push Bagnaia for victory.

"Nobody's said anything to me about team orders up until this point," Miller said. "It's just me as being a rider and having common sense is the main thing.

"We all want the same thing, we all want to see Ducati win, we all want to get the best for that, and at the moment Francesco is our biggest chance.

"It doesn't change anything for me. I'm there to do the best I can do. We'll see what happens in the race tomorrow, but for sure Francesco's speed around here is not doubted."

Last week's Grand Prix of the Americas winner Marc Marquez will start seventh on the grid, while Valentino Rossi is 23rd on home soil.

 

Qualifying results

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:33.045
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.225s
3. Luca Marini (Ducati) +0.85s
4. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.268s
5. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull) +0.394s
6. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.481s
7. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.805s
8. Iker Lecuona (Tech3) +0.848s
9. Danilo Petrucci (Tech3) +1.095s
10. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +1.642s
11. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +1.198s
12. Jorge Martin (Aprilia) ++51.586s

Marc Marquez returned to the top step of the podium at the Grand Prix of the Americas, where Fabio Quartararo took another step towards the MotoGP world championship.

Six-time premier-class champion Marquez did not finish a single grand prix in 2020 due to injury and has struggled at times with his fitness again this year, unable to play a part in the title race.

But the Repsol Honda great provided a reminder of his talent with a straightforward second win of the season in Texas on Sunday.

Marquez had won on 10 of his 11 previous appearances in the United States, only failing at the previous GP of the Americas in 2019 as he retired.

He started from third but led from the first corner, ducking up the inside and never looking like relinquishing his advantage.

Marquez maintained a steady pace initially, but having held his own looked to kick clear and was comfortable all the way to prompt celebrations in his garage.

Crucially in terms of the title picture, Quartararo followed Marquez over the line, his second consecutive second-placed finish enough to stretch his season lead.

Fabio Bagnaia, Quartararo's nearest rival, started from pole for a third race running but could not follow up back-to-back victories with a third.

He was forced to settle for third and now trails by 52 points with only three grands prix remaining.

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