Valentino Rossi joked he might opt to quit MotoGP again in 2022 after enjoying all the fanfare that accompanied his final race in Valencia before retirement.

Rossi, a seven-time MotoGP champion and legend of the sport, took to the track for the final time on Sunday having confirmed the 2021 season would be his last back in August.

The 42-year-old qualified in 10th and ultimately finished in the same position, achieving the top-10 finish he had identified as his goal heading into the weekend.

Rossi was mobbed at the end of the race, with his rivals, fans and crew all swarming around him before lifting him aloft of the track shortly after old friend Ronaldo waved the chequered flag.

A party then began as Rossi returned to the pits, and he could not hide his enjoyment of all the adoration.

"[There's been] a lot of surprises, we've had fun," he told Sky Sport Italia. "It was my style, we drank, broke a few things. I'm not that drunk yet!

"I'm happy to have had a good race, I finished among the 10 strongest riders in the world. Slowly now I'll realise that I'm stopping, but for now [it just feels like] the championship is over.

"I've always tried to do one last race in my style. They tried to make me cry, but in my opinion this was supposed to be a party.

"Quitting was an excuse to make a bit of a mess, maybe I'll quit next year too! No, you know how proud I am to have gone out strong.

"I was in shape today, I was inspired. I like that I've left in this way. At least I can say that at the last race I finished 10th."

Fittingly, VR46 academy product Francesco Bagnaia was victorious on the day.

He and the other riders to have come through the academy who were involved in the various races over the weekend wore replicas of Rossi's most iconic helmet designs, and he appreciated that tribute.

"Yesterday, when they surprised me with the helmets, it was tough but nice," Rossi added. "Today, it was great to see them in action."

Francesco Bagnaia dedicated his Valencia Grand Prix victory to Valentino Rossi as the MotoGP great hangs up his leathers.

Rossi, a seven-time world champion and legend of the sport, took part in the final race of his illustrious career on Sunday, having confirmed the 2021 season would be his last back in August.

The 42-year-old qualified in 10th and ultimately finished in the same position, achieving the top-10 finish he had identified as his goal heading into the weekend.

Rossi was mobbed at the end of the race, with his rivals, fans and crew all swarming around him before lifting him aloft of the track.

He was then treated to special tributes from other teams as he headed back down the pitlane for the last time, before something of a party began in the Yamaha paddock.

Bagnaia won the race after seeing off Jorge Martin, and the Italian – who came through Rossi's VR46 academy – dedicated the win to his hero.

"It was very exciting because with a helmet like this I could only win," the Ducati rider told Sky Sport Italia while holding a replica of Rossi's 2004 helmet.

"It is the only way to celebrate the greatest of all, it was beautiful. The hug with Vale was wonderful, I was able to pass on to him what he is for me, and all the gratitude for what he's done. Without him I would not be like this at the moment.

"I wanted to give Valentino a gift with my helmet and dedicate this race to him. I thank him for what he did for us at the academy.

"Before the weekend I wasn't sure I could do performances like this here. In the end, we were among the fastest and I'm happy to have won. It's the best way to end a season."

 

Valentino Rossi brought the curtain down on his illustrious MotoGP career with a 10th-placed finish at the Valencia Grand Prix while his protege Francesco Bagnaia crossed the line first in the final race of the campaign.

Seven-time MotoGP champion Rossi, 42, confirmed in August he would be hanging up his leathers at the end of the 2021 season, and he closed things out with a drama-free ride as he achieved his pre-weekend goal of a top-10 finish.

Danil Petrucci, who finished in 18th, is also departing MotoGP.

Rossi received a hero's reception at the end of the race as riders, fans and crew swarmed and held him aloft, with his old friend Ronaldo having waved the final chequered flag of his career.

The veteran enjoyed a solid performance in qualifying, securing a respectable 10th place on the grid, but it was his countryman Bagnaia and rookie Jorge Martin at the front who occupied the main in-race focus.

Martin started on pole for the fourth time this season and showed excellent poise to hold off Bagnaia for a while, but he left the door open at the end of the 15th lap as the Italian's persistence paid off.

Bagnaia was then in a class of his own for the rest of the race as Martin failed to reel him back in, though the latter did just enough to hold off Jack Miller to secure second.

Ducati bikes locked out the podium as their factory team secured the teams' title in emphatic fashion, but all the attention was on Rossi at the end, with various teams producing their own tributes to him as he rode back down the pit lane for the last time.

 

 

MotoGP great Valentino Rossi received a timely boost from one of the championship's emerging stars in qualifying for the Valencia Grand Prix.

Rossi, a nine-time world champion, is retiring after Sunday's race, which brings the curtain down on the 2021 season.

Fabio Quartararo already has the title sewn up, and the newly crowned champion will start from eighth on the grid, two ahead of 42-year-old Rossi.

Rossi was given a helping hand by Francesco Bagnaia, who is looking to cap a superb individual season that has seen him claim wins at Aragon, San Marino and Portimao.

Bagnaia finished second in qualifying, just 0.064 seconds behind Jorge Martin, who claimed the fourth pole of his rookie season with a superb ride.

The Ducati rider crashed at Turn Two, though still found the power to provide Rossi with a tow that secured his place in Q2.

"Pecco helped me, I'm very happy," Rossi explained.  "We didn't have a clear plan, I just started behind him and he saw me but he continued to push. So thanks a lot to Pecco, who helped me improve my lap time.

"This is a great feeling for me and for the team in my last race. I think that apart from the emotional moment for me it's very important to try to make a good weekend, a good result and I will start in the top 10. So it was a good Saturday."

Bagnaia added: "No, no [it wasn't planned]. But, I did see him enter on the track before me, so it's the minimum that I can do for him. He gave so much over the years to us so it's the minimum I could do."

Bagnaia gave Martin full credit for clinching pole and the Pramac Racing driver said he took a risky approach to give himself the best chance of a second win of the season.

"In qualifying as always, we risk a lot," Martin said. "It's not an easy track because the layout is strange, it's not normal and also the grip is not perfect here. So, I was risking every lap, in every corner, but finally I could finish this lap.

"I'm really happy. My performance is good. You can see all the Ducatis are strong, so tomorrow will be a great battle but I think I have the pace to fight for the podiums."

Jack Miller, Bagnaia's Ducati team-mate, will round out the front row on Sunday.

Francesco Bagnaia returned to winning ways with a dominant Algarve Grand Prix victory as he closes on the end of his debut season with the Ducati factory team in top form.

Bagnaia was unable to take the MotoGP title race right down to the wire, with Fabio Quartararo clinching the championship last time out when his nearest rival retired.

But Bagnaia has undoubtedly been the form man on the grid from September onwards. Indeed, had he not crashed at the Emilia Romagna GP, the Italian would have had Quartararo firmly in his sights – the new champion went down at Turn 5 with five laps remaining on Sunday, his first error of the season.

Meanwhile, Bagnaia had continued his stunning run of poles with a fifth in succession at Portimao and, as in the first two races in that sequence, protected his position for a third win of the year.

That was enough to seal the constructors' championship for Ducati, who also moved into the lead in the teams' standings as Jack Miller joined Bagnaia on the steps.

The pair both started from the front row and Miller jumped ahead of the pole man into the first corner but then relinquished the lead.

Joan Mir caught Miller, too, while Bagnaia steadily disappeared into the distance, finishing well clear.

Mir held off Miller for his joint-best result of the year, while Alex Marquez also nipped ahead of the second Ducati man when his pace just relented slightly.

Marquez, pursuing a first podium of the year, could not keep Miller at bay, though, and a run of nine races without appearing on the steps ended for the Australian as the grand prix was prematurely brought to a close.

Home hopeful Miguel Oliveira was involved in a nasty crash with Iker Lecuona, prompting a red flag and the end of the race with more than three quarters completed. Both riders were quickly confirmed as conscious.

Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller both lauded the impact Casey Stoner had on their rides after the Ducati duo sealed a one-two in qualifying for the Algarve Grand Prix.

Though Fabio Quartararo already has the MotoGP world title sewn up, the rest of the field are still fighting for position and second-placed Bagnaia set a record lap time at Portimao in Q2 on Saturday.

That effort saw the Italian sensationally claim pole position for a fifth straight race. This is the second run of the same rider taking five poles in a row this season after Quartararo also did so.

Miller had provisional pole, but Bagnaia snatched first place on the grid away from his team-mate and then improved to a final time of 1:38.725.

With Stoner a guest of Ducati throughout the weekend, as well as for the Valencia Grand Prix, both Bagnaia and Miller expressed their desire for Ducati to employ a rider coach for next season, with the Australian – who won the MotoGP title in 2007 and 2011 – a prime candidate.

Bagnaia told a news conference: "It could be a nice present from Ducati to have Casey as a coach next year.

"It's a different point of view, he's a legend and it's different to have a coach, because in Ducati we don't have a coach and for me it helps a lot.

"Maybe next year we can have him. But for me today he helped a bit for the last corner, the exit of the last corner, and it was useful."

Miller, a compatriot of Stoner, added: "It's fantastic to have Casey at the last two grands prix.

"He's got a family and lives on another side of the world, so the idea of that working out I think could be too hard logistically and whatnot.

"But I'd be all for it 100 per cent. But like Pecco said, it is really nice, I've worked with spotters on track and he's not a normal spotter – let's say it like that.

"It's Casey Stoner, a legend, one of the best ever. But I think it is something we're missing in our programme and I think it is definitely something we need to look at maybe introducing into the programme.

"I'm not saying we can get Casey, I'm more than happy to have him, but somebody."

Behind the Ducati duo, Joan Mir of Suzuki Ecstar claimed third. Remarkably, it is the first time the Spaniard, who won the title in 2020, will start on the front row in a MotoGP race.

"Maybe starting in the first row it will help to be more in front and have the situation a little bit more under control," said Mir, who expanded on a heated exchange he had with Alex Marquez at the end of the session.

"Well, Alex was following me I think until FP3 in all the sessions, also FP4 and the first exit in qualifying and the second one he was waiting again," he explained.

"If he didn't disturb me then it's not a problem, but in that moment I made the first lap quite slow to warm up the tyres; the lap time was not bad, but I was warming the tyres and I had just one lap left, but then he decided to overtake me on the braking and went wide. 

"That's why I was angry. Alex came to the box to apologise which is something I appreciate. At that moment I was not happy because I could not get the 100 per cent today."

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

Francesco Bagnaia was "on another level" as he sealed victory at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday, so says MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo.

Bagnaia held off Quartararo in a pulsating late battle to secure back-to-back victories, following on from his maiden MotoGP win in Aragon last time out.

Yamaha's Quartararo still holds a healthy 48-point lead over Bagnaia in the world championship standings, after the Frenchman made a late charge to secure second place ahead of rookie Enea Bastianini.

Quartararo was delighted with his ride, but was full of admiration for Bagnaia's performance at Misano.

"It was so difficult because they were attacking me from all sides and I lost quite a bit of time in the beginning," Quartararo said.

"But I gave it all and sometimes was really close to the ground. I wanted to try for the win but Francesco was on another level today, I don't know how he's doing that.

"At the end we did the job, points in the championship is really important, we still have an advantage so let's stay calm and give congratulations to Francesco because he did an amazing race."

A first MotoGP win had been a long time coming for Ducati's Bagnaia, who was delighted to so swiftly add a second, and he acknowledged a strong start was crucial to his victory.

"With soft tyres, maybe I was struggling a bit, but I tried to push in the first two or three laps to make the gap," he said.

"It was very difficult, but I tried to push. The pace was quite close.

"We worked it so perfectly, two big wins in a row is incredible for me. I was targeting to win my first race but always I was missing something and now already two, so I'm very happy."

Bastianini, meanwhile, revelled in a maiden podium appearance.

"It's possible to do this with these bikes, I know the potential," Bastianini said. 

"I battled a lot during the race, it was really difficult to close the gap. It was impossible for me to attack these two riders [Bagnaia and Quartararo] today, but it's really nice to have the first podium at Misano, it's amazing for me."

Francesco Bagnaia held off Fabio Quartararo in a pulsating late battle to secure back-to-back victories at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Bagnaia led from start to finish but came under huge pressure from Quartararo in the final few laps at Ducati's local track of Misano, where the rain that was forecast never arrived.

The Italian held his nerve to secure another victory from pole a week after claiming his maiden MotoGP win in Aragon.

Bagnaia's triumph left him 48 points behind Yamaha's championship leader Quartararo, who had to settle for second spot following a late charge after starting in third.

Rookie Enea Bastianini produced a sensational ride to get himself on the podium for the first time, having been way back in 11th on the grid, while Marc Marquez took fourth ahead of Jack Miller and Joan Mir.

Bagnaia got off to a flyer and his team-mate Miller retained second spot off the grid, while Jorge Martin spun off early on at Turn 14 but picked himself up to continue.

Marquez gained a couple of early places and Quartararo flashed past Miller to move into second spot, with Bagnaia extending his advantage out in front.

Bastianini stormed past Marquez into fourth and Martin retired with 16 laps to go before Alex Rins crashed out.

Bagnaia looked comfortable but Quartararo started to close significantly with the laps running out, with the Frenchman scenting a dramatic victory.

The ice-cool Bagnaia was not to be denied, though, and his compatriot secured a magnificent third place after overtaking Miller with nine laps remaining.

Francesco Bagnaia stormed to another MotoGP pole position but Sunday's weather could be pivotal to deciding who wins the San Marino Grand Prix.

Ducati bikes dominated qualifying, accounting for four of the top five places, with Jack Miller joining Bagnaia in a one-two for the factory team, ahead of Yamaha's championship leader Fabio Quartararo.

The Ducati-powered Pramac Racing pair of Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco took fourth and fifth at Misano, a local track for Ducati who will be hoping for a 'home' race win.

Yet Bagnaia and Quartararo both indicated after Saturday's qualifying session that should it rain, as forecasts suggest it well may, that could be a major factor in the outcome. A wet track is likely to suit the pole-sitter.

Pace-setter Bagnaia also took pole at last week's Aragon Grand Prix and converted that into a race win, his first at MotoGP level, and he sits second in the championship.

He described his fastest lap time on Saturday as "incredible" and said: "I feel great with everything. I think we did a really good pace

"In both conditions, dry and wet, I think we are ready to fight. For sure, in the dry Fabio has better pace than in Aragon, so I think it can be a good fight with him, but let's see, never say never.

"I prefer dry. It's very difficult to predict a strategy for tomorrow but I'd like to start well, push from the start, and see if I can manage the gap or I will have to fight in the last laps. In any case we will try to be ready for every condition.

"It's the second weekend in a row that all the Ducati are at the front in qualifying, and also for me to put the bike in front of Fabio for the championship. We're working well, the bike is very competitive, and we're doing a really great step every time."

Quartararo crashed as he looked to jump ahead of Bagnaia on the grid, but the French rider brushed that off after the session, declaring he was "totally OK".

"I just wanted to exaggerate a little bit on the braking, but unfortunately it was not working," Quartararo told MotoGP's official website. "But it was good, I gave it a try – at least I felt the real limit on the bike. I feel like our pace is really good compared to Aragon, where it was not great. I'm feeling ready for tomorrow – a little bit surrounded by red [Ducati] bikes but I'm feeling good.

"They are faster than us in the wet, but my feeling on the dry is super good and I want to keep going in that direction. I don't want to talk about rain and I don't want to call it."

Ducati have now been on pole four times at Misano, after Casey Stoner topped the time sheets in 2007 and 2008, followed by Jorge Lorenzo three years ago. Of those pole-sitters, only Stoner in 2007 took the chequered flag on race day.

Last season's champion Joan Mir had a qualifying session to forget, with a dashboard message on his Suzuki Ecstar bike urging him to pit proving a red herring. There was no problem with the bike, and technical manager Ken Kawauchi later apologised for the mistake.

Mir was ushered back to the track but could only finish in 11th place, with Quartararo's crash causing yellow-flag conditions in the closing stages.

"Qualifying was a shame; we didn’t have the potential to fight for pole and we're honestly quite far from that," said Mir.

"I felt that the second row was possible, but then I had some trouble with the front on my first exit, then I saw a message on my dashboard right after I exited for the second run. I thought I should stop in case there was something wrong with the bike, and in the end this impacted my qualifying as well as the yellow flag on my last flying lap.

"There’s no point being frustrated; the focus now is on the race and I know I have good pace if I can get a strong start."


Qualifying results

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:31.065
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.249secs
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.302
4. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.598
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.771
6. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.858
7. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.870
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.872
9. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.952
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +1.056
11. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.361
12. Enea Bastianini (Avintia) +1.396

Francesco Bagnaia revelled in a "dream come true" after earning a sensational first MotoGP win by holding off Marc Marquez, who said he proved his old mentality is still burning as strong as ever.

Marquez missed almost the entirety of 2020 due to a serious arm injury and has only one victory to his name this season.

It was so nearly two in a stunning tussle at the Aragon Grand Prix on Sunday, but it was Ducati rider Bagnaia who topped a premier-class podium for the first time in his career.

Speaking afterwards, Bagnaia – who now sits second in the riders' standings, 53 points adrift of Fabio Quartararo – struggled to comprehend the level of his achievement.

"I'm feeling a lot of emotion today, I'm so happy," he said. 

"We worked a lot to achieve this result, every time we were close, something happened and the dream to win my first victory was far. 

"I'm so happy, I have to say thanks to all the team, all my family, my fantastic girlfriend, who are all with me every day.

"It's difficult to say something now but it was not easy to stay in front of Marc at this track. His body is not at 100 per cent, I think today he was very, very competitive. I just tried to do my best, to finish first is a dream come true."

Marquez made several passes during the final few laps, only to cede back the position on each occasion in a race that thrilled to the finish.

The Repsol Honda rider thinks he proved a point with his battling display.

"Yeah, I mean like some people [said] the old Marquez is not there, today we showed it's the same mentality," he said. 

"I still need to find the best level of myself. But anyway, it is a great result, I enjoyed a lot the race and the battle with Pecco on the last laps. I was a bit on the limit, but I think everybody was the same and I tried like always. 

"Even coming in from two crashes in a row, I try, this is my style. Today Pecco was faster than us, he did an incredible race. It was not possible but anyway I'm really happy."

World champion Joan Mir came home third for Suzuki Ecstar and was disappointed not to have challenged the leaders.

"I feel tired, I gave 110 per cent," he said. "And honestly, I'm a bit disappointed today. I expected a little bit better today, the pace over the weekend was better than to make only a podium. I expected to fight with those guys. 

"At the beginning, starting seventh position probably penalised us a little bit. I'm happy for the team, another podium is always a podium, but we want more, so let's push more."

Francesco Bagnaia held off Marc Marquez in a sensational Aragon Grand Prix to claim a maiden win in MotoGP.

The Ducati rider and his Spanish rival, aiming to win on his fifth straight appearance at the track having not raced there in 2020, exchanged position several times over the course of a pulsating finish.

But the Italian, who started on pole, put on a masterclass to beat Repsol Honda rider Marquez in his own backyard to clinch an unbelievable victory and move up to second in the riders' standings.

Bagnaia finished down in 14th last time out at the British Grand Prix for his worst result in two years but he and Marquez stole a march on the chasing pack this time around.

It has been a largely disappointing season for the legendary Marquez, who missed almost the entirety of 2020 through injury, yet there were signs of his best in a thrilling chase.

Marquez made his first move at Turn 5 with three laps to go, only to go wide and allow Bagnaia to reclaim the lead.

That theme continued for the rest of the race as Marquez made several passes and on each occasion giving it back, until finally he went off track at Turn 12 allowing Bagnaia to finally claim a win in the premier class.

Defending world champion Joan Mir rounded out the podium, while riders' standings leader Fabio Quartararo finished a distant eighth but was the only Yamaha rider inside the points.

Aleix Espargaro was fourth ahead of Jack Miller, who was on course for a podium finish until a costly error midway through the race saw him lose position.

TOP 10

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati)
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.673s
3. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +3.911s
4. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +9.269s
5. Jack Miller (Ducati) +11.928s
6. Enea Bastianini (Avintia) +13.757s
7. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +14.064s
8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +16.575s
9. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +16.615s
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +16.904s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 214
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 161
3. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 157
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 137
5. Jack Miller (Ducati) 129

Teams

1. Monster Energy Yamaha 309
2. Ducati 290
3. Suzuki Ecstar 225
4. Pramac Racing 212
5. Red Bull KTM 204

Francesco Bagnaia produced a "perfect lap" to seal pole position for Sunday's Aragon GP.

The Italian delivered a lap of one minute and 46.332 seconds on his second run to break the lap record at Aragon, which had stood since 2015.

Ducati team-mate Jack Miller was his nearest rival at just 0.366secs adrift, giving Ducati their first one-two in qualifying since Aragon 2018.

It marks Bagnaia's second pole of the 2021 season and the 50th for Ducati in MotoGP.

"I think it was a perfect lap," said Bagnaia. "It was great. I did a nice sector one, the sector two was incredible too and our bike in sector four helped us a lot.

"Also, entry to the last corner was incredible. I looked at the data of Jorge Martin this morning, who was doing a different line compared to me, and then I tried to do the same and I improved a lot. I didn't expect to do a lap like that."

Bagnaia has never won a MotoGP race and he is keen to avoid complacency ahead of Sunday's race at MotorLand.

"I'll just try to set my pace and be fast," he added. "It will be important what happens with the tyres after 15 or 16 laps and in the last part of the race I feel strong, we will see if I am strong enough to win.

"The important thing will be to stay with the best from start to finish.

"It’s difficult to say that I'm ready to win or that I can win, but all the things are there."

Fabio Quartararo completed the front row, extending his run of consecutive top-three qualifying results to 11 this season.

The French rider, however, does not believe he has the pace to keep up with the Ducati pair.

"I want to have fun. Of course, it would be great to fight for the podium," he said.

"But to be honest, I don't feel I have the pace, so I will try to manage the best result as possible and I will try to stay with the front guys and fight until the end.

"But right now, at least we need to make a step in the warm-up to be able to fight for the podium tomorrow.

"So, let's hope for an improvement on the warm-up."

Provisional classification

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:46.322
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.366
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.397
4. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.414
5. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.556
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.561
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.840
8. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.872
9. Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) +0.956
10. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.966
11. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +1.044
12. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +1.610

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