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The MotoGP™ grid will welcome three new faces in 2021, and all of them will be attacking the premier class on Ducatis. Reigning Moto2™ World Champion Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) is one of those riders, and we thought it would be a good idea for you to get to know his story a little bit better ahead of the season.
The young Italian was victorious in two 2013 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup races and after turning 16 at the end of that season, Bastianini was signed up by Fausto Gresini for his Moto3™ World Championship debut. Three rostrums came his way in his rookie lightweight class campaign and Bastianini stayed with Gresini’s squad for the following season – and a maiden victory was snatched on home soil at Misano.
Heading into his third year in Grand Prix racing, ‘The Beast’ had nine podiums to his name. An impressive tally, and Bastianini would add six more in 2016 – one of those being a victory. It helped the Italian finish second in the Championship standings behind now-MotoGP™ rival Brad Binder. 2017 with Estrella Galicia 0,0 didn’t quite go to plan, three podiums and P6 in the standings wasn’t the ideal year, but a switch to light blue machinery the following season brought better results.
In Leopard Racing colours – the bike that had just helped Joan Mir to title glory – Bastianini was back to winning ways in the Moto3™ class. 2018 saw him win the Catalan GP and podium his Honda a further five times on his way to P4 overall, paving a way into the Moto2™ class for 2019. Italtrans Racing Team was the new home for the now 24-time Grand Prix podium finisher, a huge challenge that Bastianini took to like a duck to water.
Third at the Czech GP was the highlight. A podium in your rookie season – in any class – isn’t something to be sniffed at. A big crash at the Austrian GP saw him miss the following weekend of racing at Silverstone, the only slight dampener on an impressive first campaign in Moto2™ that saw Bastianini claim P10 in the title race.
Step up 2020. A podium at the opening race in Qatar was a solid start and despite a disappointing P9 on the weekend we returned to action, the following two races set the precedent for Bastianini’s year. A win at the Andalucia GP was backed up by a win at Brno, before two disappointing Red Bull Ring encounters saw him hand over the title reigns to compatriot and 2021 teammate Luca Marini.
However, two podiums at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli – a P3 and P1 – saw him return to the summit. Again, Bastianini wouldn’t spray the champagne for the next couple of races but two podiums at MotorLand Aragon kept him ahead of the chasing pack, that consisted of Marini, Sam Lowes and Marco Bezzecchi. It was a title race that would go right down to the wire in Portugal.
Misfortune for other riders – coupled with a cool, calm, collected and measured Bastianini – meant the Moto2™ sophomore had a commanding 14-point lead at the Algarve International Circuit. No mistakes were made and having picked up three wins, one second and three thirds, ‘The Beast’ was a World Champion for the first time.
Up next for Bastianini is a MotoGP™ conquest with Ducati and Avintia Esponsorama Racing. The Italian will line-up alongside Marini – albeit in different colours – and will also have the added motivation of pitching himself against fellow rookie Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) on similar machinery. Bastianini comes up as a Champion, and as Brad Binder and Alex Marquez proved last year, podiums and victories are possible in your maiden voyage.
It’s his toughest challenge yet, but the 23-year-old enters the fray full of confidence and hope. The first time we’ll see Bastianini on Ducati’s GP20 will be at the Qatar Test in early March, where he hopes his journey to MotoGP™ superiority begins.