Pecco Bagnaia : 2022 MotoGP World Champion: Francesco Bagnaia of the Ducati Lenovo Team. After starting the season 91 points down, the Italian finished in the top 10 in Valencia, clinching the championship. Bagnaia is the first rider for Ducati to win since Casey Stoner in 2007, the first Italian to win since Valentino Rossi in 2009, and the first Italian to win on an Italian bike since Giacomo Agostini in 1972.
Bagnaia, who was born in Turin, competed in the MiniMoto class and found success before moving up to the then-CEV in 2011, where he learned his trade before moving up to the Moto3 World Championship in 2013. By enrolling in the VR46 Riders Academy and switching to SKY VR46 for the 2014 season, the groundwork was laid for a breakout year on the track.
In 2015, he was Mahindra’s primary rider in Aspar, and he solidified his position as the team’s top rider the following year by winning the race for the first time on the bike and the subsequent race as well. For his efforts at Assen and Sepang, he was rewarded with a ride on the MotoGPTM bike during the end-of-season test in Valencia.
Bagnaia joined the new Moto2 effort by Sky Racing Team VR46 in 2017, where he quickly became the Rookie of the Year and a multiple-time podium finisher. The next year, 2018, he started the year off well and was an early title candidate. His immaculate form and some fantastic victories ultimately led to him winning the championship in Malaysia. Motorcycle Grand Prix of Malaysia (MotoGP) is up next.
Bagnaia had a rough debut season with Pramac Racing despite displaying great pace in testing for the premier class. However, a strong fourth-place finish at Phillip Island bodes well. The Italian had a mixed 2020, but he finished a remarkable second in the San Marino GP and was on the brink of a first premier class win a week later at the same circuit until a sad collision destroyed his aspirations. The rest of the races that year were a struggle for him, but a switch to the factory team in 2021 marked a fresh beginning.
The Italian’s early season success (three podiums and a pole position) indicated that he could be a title contender, and despite a slump in the middle of the season, he remained the only serious threat to eventual Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and ended the year as the season’s most in-form rider. Bagnaia made his MotoGPTM debut and won after an unbelievable head-to-head battle with Marc Marquez. He then went on to win in Misano a week later and finished the season with another victory in Valencia.
However, 2022 got off to a slow start. After an unusual start to the season marked by an accident in Qatar, a difficult race in Lombok, two fifths, and an eighth, the 63th-placed rider in Jerez eventually prevailed in a race-long chess play against the first-placed Quartararo. Then there was another wreck, this time at Le Mans, followed by an Italian victory on home soil at Mugello. However, the ride went back downhill as he took home a zero in Barcelona and a one in Sachsenring due to poor luck and an error, respectively. At the time, Bagnaia’s gap to points leader Quartararo was the largest it had ever been.
Bagnaia earned four consecutive wins at Assen, Silverstone, Austria, and Misano, proving that the greatest way to launch a comeback is to start winning. He finished second in Aragon a year after his first victory, although the margin of victory with 2023 colleague Enea Bastianini was just hundredths of a second. Again. At Motegi, though, the ups and downs resumed as Bagnaia crashed on the final lap, falling farther behind key competitor Quartararo and giving up position he had worked so hard to acquire since the summer break.
Challenge number one came in the form of rainy racing conditions in Thailand, and many thought back to Lombok, where Quartararo had won the podium and Bagnaia had scored only one point. However, in Buriram, the roles were reversed, with Pecco taking home the hardware and El Diablo failing to score a single point. The next stop was Australia, where Quartararo was involved in an accident as Bagnaia climbed back into the box, and where the tension would build until the first match point in Sepang.
There, the rivalry between Bagnaia and Bastianini resumed. The two went nose-to-nose throughout the race, drawing attention to the pair that will share the factory garage in 2019. While Quartararo had a strong showing with a podium finish, it was driver 63 who retained his cool and the lead, claiming his eighth victory of the season to open up a 23-point advantage.
The time for #TheDecider has come. Twenty-three points, one championship, and two riders. Even though Bagnaia had a tense weekend, the lights went out and an amazing race marked the end of an era in Grand Prix racing. As the race progressed, it became clear that Quartararo would not win despite his best efforts to move to the front and withstand the pressure from the Frenchman and the Ducatis (and others). Bagnaia crossed the finish line in ninth place to claim the title of 2022 MotoGP World Champion despite losing some aero in a collision with the Frenchman.
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