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It was a victory fight that will be talked about for many years to come. Francesco Bagnaia vs Marc Marquez, Ducati Lenovo Team vs Repsol Honda Team. Despite seven passing attempts from the eight-time World Champion, Bagnaia held his nerve to clinch that long-awaited MotoGP™ victory he’d been craving so badly.
It became clear in the early stages of the Aragon GP race that Bagnaia and Marquez had an edge on the rest. Polesitter Pecco grabbed the holeshot into Turn 1, with Marquez snatching second as Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) slipped to P3 – with World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) quickly descending down the order.
The early stages were all about finding a balance between setting a good pace and managing the soft rear tyres. The white-banded Michelin rubber had to endure 23 agonizing laps around MotorLand Aragon, the left-hand side of the tyre screaming for mercy lap after lap. Pecco and Marquez found this balance flawlessly. Having increased their lead to over four seconds heading into the closing stages, it was a straight fight between the pair for victory. Marquez chasing his fifth win in his last five races at MotorLand, Bagnaia desperate for his first in the premier class.
What unfolded was an astonishing, awe-inspiring battle. The last five laps saw Marquez throw the kitchen sink at Pecco, only for the latter to pounce straight back on the exit of Turn 1 once, Turns 5 and 15 three times, with Marquez’ final lap attempt at Turn 12 ultimately handing Pecco that illustrious victory.
It was only a matter of time before Bagnaia won a MotoGP™ race. The 2018 Moto2™ World Champion has had a trio of second place finishes in 2021, with that Lap 1 crash at the Italian GP from the lead his only big mistake of the season. Now though, that weight has been firmly lifted off Pecco’s shoulders, and it means we have now witnessed eight different winners this season – one off the record set in 2016 and 2020.
Bagnaia joins Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Quartararo, teammate Miller, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Marc Marquez, Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in winning at least one race in 2021.
It's been said numerous times this year: MotoGP™ is the most competitive it has been. Ever. All six factories have claimed podiums in 2021, five have victories. Winning a race has never been tougher, Pecco’s near misses demonstrate that entirely. Marc Marquez threw everything in his locker at the Italian, but Bagnaia didn’t buckle.
Ducati’s leading light in 2021 is now second in the World Championship, 53 points off Quartararo, with a homecoming next on the agenda. Bagnaia finished second and crashed out of the lead at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli last season, all while still nursing a broken leg sustained in the Czech Republic. A fully fit, confident, and more complete Pecco now heads to home territory, pursuing another 25-point haul. It’ll come as no surprise if another win comes his way.
But don’t be surprised if a ninth winner of 2021 is born. Reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) has five podiums to his name and bagged a brilliant P3 in Aragon, but his winless run continues. Mir picked up two rostrums at Misano in 2020. The Spaniard is the leading contender to become a ninth winner, but who knows – maybe someone else fancies adding their name to the history books before the season closes.
9 months ago
9 months ago