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13 days ago
By motogp.com

Then and now: 2018 Champions go toe-to-toe in Austria

After clinching the Moto3™, Moto2™ and MotoGP™ titles three years ago, Martin, Bagnaia and Marquez treated us to an epic fight in 2021

They dominated all three classes in 2018, but now Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), Francesco Bagnaia (Lenovo Ducati Team) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) are going toe-to-toe in the premier class after treating us to a sensational scrap for supremacy at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday. The pair were enthralled in a fierce fight for victory, before the rain had other ideas, highlighting the sensational journey all three have come on since celebrating World Championship success in Valencia three years ago.

Martin took seven victories in a dominant title-winning year, before then moving onto Moto2™ with Red Bull KTM Ajo. The Spaniard added two more victories to his name in 2020 before being handed the chance to race with the very best in the world. He's since grabbed that chance with both hands, enjoying a breakout start to the year. Only the likes of Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez have started life in MotoGP™ with the same level of success as Martin. Seven races, three pole positions, three podiums including a memorable win last week. Something he's still struggling to comprehend following this post on Twitter.

Bagnaia, meanwhile, has been a bit of a slow burner in the premier class following on from his own title success in 2018. The Italian got the better of Miguel Oliveira that year; with the pair now dueling regularly in the premier class as well. Two years of steady progression in the Pramac squad saw the Italian handed his dream ride with the factory Ducati squad and, despite still waiting for that dream debut victory, the 24-year-old is a regular front-runner and now Fabio Quartararo's (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) closest title rival.

UNMISSABLE: The sensational final four laps from Austria

Finally, what a rollercoaster three years it has been for Marc Marquez. Following on from 2018, he smashed every record under the sun in 2019 as he had his most dominant season to date, finishing outside of the top two just once all year. Then 2020 happened. We all know the story by now: highside in Jerez, three surgeries, nine months out and even now admitting to not being anywhere near the Marquez of old. However, we got our biggest indication yet on Sunday that it isn't too far away. As the Spaniard even admits himself, "Sachsenring is Sachsenring". But Sunday saw him go toe-to-toe with the new generation on a track he was struggling at prior to race day.

Three years is a long time in any sport, but even more so in MotoGP™. From standing on the start-finish straight in Valencia in November of 2018 to going side-by-side and fighting for premier class honours in August of 2021. A fairytale journey that's a long from finishing for Martin and Bagnaia, as Marquez now sets about trying to defeat the next crop of young pretenders.

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