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 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

Marc Marquez had forecast the need to "gamble" on Sunday, but he was angry with his execution after crashing twice at a flag-to-flag French Grand Prix he briefly led.

The Repsol Honda superstar was hoping for a wet race to give him the best chance of a first victory since his injury at Le Mans.

The looming dark clouds delivered early in Sunday's race and Marquez, starting from sixth on the grid, stormed into contention.

Aiming for a fourth French GP win – only he and Valentino Rossi have three MotoGP victories – Marquez emerged from the pit lane in the lead after switching bikes.

That advantage did not last long as a dramatic fall saw the Spaniard flip through the air after flying off the slippery surface.

Yet that was not the crash that upset Marquez, who continued the grand prix and had recovered to reach 11th when he skidded off the track a second time and was ruled out.

"In the rain, I had a better chance of having a good race, but also of crashing," he told Sky Sport. "In the dry, I saw that there was a limit, but after the flag-to-flag I felt good.

"In the first crash, the bike slid a lot. Even with the medium tyre, at the beginning, I had to be a bit calmer, but it can happen.

"Then I got back on the bike and I was running very fast. The second fall is the one that angers me most.

"The first could happen because it was wet, I was warming the tyres... it happened to many riders.

"The second makes me angry because I was pushing too hard even though I was struggling to stay 100 per cent focused on the bike. At that point, I was thinking more about getting back in to put on the dry tyres than about riding.

"That's why it made me angry. There is a risk and I need to manage it better."

Although Marquez shouldered his fair share of blame, he was disenchanted with the performance of his Repsol Honda bike.

He said: "If it is a step back, what can be used to take the races more calmly? If we look at the Honda crashes, it's not just me. All our bikes have crashed.

"We're working on it. It is true that I crashed twice in Jerez, though.

"Here, due to the conditions we had, we had a good weekend, but today was not a good Sunday. Today I was not good, I didn't risk when I had to risk and I risked too much when I didn't have to."

Marquez was not the only former champion to make a costly mistake, with 2020 title-winner Joan Mir unable to finish after his own crash.

The Suzuki Ecstar rider went down approaching the pit lane and then dashed towards his second bike on foot when the damaged first would not restart.

The failure to enter the pit lane with his machine meant Mir was not allowed to continue.

"I don't know what happened honestly," he said. "For my part, I have to say sorry to the team because I made a mistake.

"I saw that the bike was not running and I started to run to the box. I knew I had to come with the bike, but the bike was a bit damaged and I started to run.

"I don't know why, the adrenaline or something. But from this experience I will learn for the future, I will not repeat it, that's for sure."

Victory instead went to Jack Miller for the second race running, his tally of MotoGP wins swelling from one through 102 grands prix to three through 104.

Miller ran off into the gravel at one stage and later had to serve a double long-lap penalty, but he has back-to-back wins for just the second time in all categories, having also achieved the feat in Moto3 in 2014.

"That was hectic, very hectic," he said, adding: "It's absolutely amazing. I can't believe it.

"Back-to-back wins like this are just fantastic and I can't thank the team enough. They're awesome."

Jack Miller admitted his first MotoGP win in just under five years left him "sobbing like a baby".

The Ducati rider won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday to finish at the top of the podium for the first time since the Dutch TT at Assen in June 2016.

Miller took the lead early in Jerez and despite being overtaken by Fabio Quartararo he held his nerve in the second half of the race to regain the lead.

Quartararo faded and the Australian passed the chequered flag in first place ahead of Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) back in third.

"It’s out of this world, honestly. Ever since that chequered flag, ever since turn 12 I’ve been on this rollercoaster and it just keeps going," Miller told BT Sport.

"I’m crying and I’m sobbing like a baby. I don't know, it's too hard to put into words what I feel today.

"Last time I won it was a big old shock in the wet. This one I've definitely worked hard to get this."

Miller said he thought his chances of victory were gone when Frenchman Quartararo overtook him, but his near-perfect ride secured the win.

Quartararo slipped down to finish 13th as he surrendered his place at the top of the world championship to Bagnaia.

Miller added: "When Fabio [Quartararo] got past me I just thought he was going to bolt, he got nearly a second gap but then he plateaued off and started coming back to me so I just had to knuckle down and get past him.

"He began to really drop off as soon as I passed him so I knew then I had to just make my break and get away as quick as possible and try to manage my lead out front.

"It seemed like a tall order at the time as I still had like 12 or 13 laps to go and I was thinking ‘that’s a long time out front by myself’ but I was able to do it.

"I’ve never rode that precise, that good in my whole entire life. I don’t think I’ve done 25 laps in a row like that in my life. So, it’s fantastic to get that."

Jack Miller won the Spanish Grand Prix as the Ducati rider notched his first MotoGP victory since 2016.

The Australian made a superb start to lead and, despite being passed by Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) in the middle stages, he held his nerve in the second half of the race to return to the front.

Miller finished ahead of Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in third spot.

Quartararo slipped down to finish 13th as he surrendered his place at the top of the world championship to Bagnaia.

The Frenchman started poorly as he slipped from pole position to fourth as Miller surged ahead, but like the Portuguese Grand Prix last time out he initially recovered.

Quartararo overtook his rivals on the final corner of successive laps to regain the lead before he pulled one-and-a-half seconds clear at the front.

With 11 laps to go, a third consecutive victory seemingly beckoned for Quartararo, but he dropped two seconds on one lap, allowing Miller to seize the advantage.

Miller was able to hold on until the end as he secured his first MotoGP win since the Dutch TT at Assen in June 2016 and his eighth overall.

Quartararo lost further ground as Italian duo Bagnaia with Morbidelli scrapped it out for second, with the former edging it to make it a one-two for Ducati.

Six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) returned to the Jerez track where he suffered a broken arm last July –  an injury that kept him out for nine months – and came through unscathed.

Marquez, who had escaped injury in a big fall on Saturday and another accident in warm-up, started the race in 14th spot and eventually ended in ninth in his second race since returning.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) claimed fourth place as Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) both secured top-six finishes.

TOP 10

1. Jack Miller (Ducati) 41'05.602
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +1.912
3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +2.516
4. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +3.206
5. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +4.256
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +5.164
7. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +5.651
8. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +7.161
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +10.494
10. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +11.776

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 66
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 64
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 50
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 49
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 48

Teams

1. Monster Energy Yamaha 114
2. Ducati 105
3. Suzuki Ecstar 72
4. Pramac Racing 65
5. Repsol Honda 40

What's next?

Quartararo will hope for more luck on home turf at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans on May 16.

 

 

Fabio Quartararo claimed his first MotoGP race win since Catalonia last year as Monster Yamaha secured a second successive Grand Prix triumph in Qatar.

Quartararo has been open about his struggles with the pressure of mounting a championship bid in 2020 but, having worked closely with a psychologist in recent months, will be hoping his win in Doha is the start of something special.

It was already a momentous occasion for rookie Jorge Martin, who secured pole in just his second outing in qualifying for a premier-class event, and the Spaniard held firm at the front for much of the race.

With his Pramac Racing team-mate Johann Zarco for company at the front, Martin looked in good shape but there was always a sense some of the big hitters from further down the field were just biding their time.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the first to make his move but ultimately lost out in his tussle with Zarco, while reigning champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) engaged in some risky jostling as they looked to get themselves in position for a late surge.

The pair touched a couple of times, including a particularly hefty bump on lap 13 that saw them exchange gestures, though both stayed up.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) also looked a threat for a while but misjudged the first turn at the start of lap 17 and lost four places.

It was around this time that Quartararo, who started fifth, began to make his move as he looked to match his Monster Yamaha colleague Maverick Vinales' win last time out.

It did not take him long to get around Zarco and by the end of the 18th lap he had passed Martin, who quickly responded only to be overtaken once again by the persistent Quartararo.

Martin kept the pressure on but Quartararo never looked unduly worried in the final stages, while Zarco finally managed to pass his rookie team-mate to finish second and seal successive podium finishes.

Jorge Martin will start Sunday's Doha MotoGP on pole after stunning the field in qualifying but the rookie insists the race win will belong to someone else.

The Spaniard nudged Pramac Racing team-mate Johann Zarco into second place with a superlative display, with Maverick Vinales – who won the season-opening race in Qatar – in third.

It was a phenomenal result for Martin on just his second outing in qualifying for a premier-class event, but the 23-year-old refused to get carried away as he lowered expectations ahead of the race at the Losail International Circuit. 

"It's difficult to describe my feelings," he said of his first pole. "In the first run, I was behind [Joan] Mir and I felt super confident, I was catching him so fast, and I said, 'Okay, I need a faster bike [to follow]'.

"I was hoping to be behind Pecco [Francesco Bagnaia] but he wasn't improving at all, so I said, 'Okay, it’s my time to boost, my time to demonstrate who I am'.

"For sure, I didn't expect to make pole; I was expecting to be front four, front five.

"When I finished the lap and I was up there in first position, it's unbelievable. This is so great. Tomorrow – another day to learn because for sure it's not my day to win.

"If we can fight for a top six that'd be great and I will be super happy."

Martin picked up a point with a 15th-place finish last week, when Zarco and pole-sitter Bagnaia joined Vinales on the podium.

A best lap of one minute and 53.106 seconds saw Martin clinch pole this time around and Zarco admitted he was taken aback when he realised who had gone faster than him.

"I'm pretty happy, a low one minute 53 seconds was a good target to be on the first row," said the Frenchman.

"When I saw this one minute 53.2 seconds when I crossed the finish line I expected to be on pole.

"But when I understood it was the 89 on pole, my team-mate, I was a bit surprised.

"I'm happy anyway because it's all going too perfect for Pramac team – first and second and it's just happiness to take. It has been great."

Provisional classification

1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) 1:53.106
2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.157
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +0.161
4. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) +0.197
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +0.363
6. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) +0.548
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) +0.599
8. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.639
9. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.679
10. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +0.688
11. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) +1.118
12. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +1.990

Francesco Bagnaia targeted "a really great result" at the Qatar Grand Prix after setting a stunning lap record on his factory Ducati debut.

Third-year MotoGP rider Bagnaia had finished 15th and 16th in his two seasons with Pramac Racing but has quickly focused on loftier ambitions following his bow with the factory team.

Ducati - winners of the previous two Qatar GPs with the since-departed Andrea Dovizioso - had been fast all week at the season opener, with Jack Miller setting the practice pace in his 100th grand prix with a best time of one minute and 53.387 seconds ahead of second-placed team-mate Bagnaia.

But Bagnaia later suggested he had believed he could run in less than 1:53 in qualifying and so it proved, a magnificent 1:52.772 setting a two-wheel lap record at the Losail International Circuit.

That was enough for a healthy 0.266-second gap to Fabio Quartararo, while Bagnaia gave veteran Valentino Rossi - a four-time Qatar winner - a tow to take him to the front of the second row.

Rossi has 10 podiums at Losail and his next in MotoGP will make him the first to 200.

Even from his commanding position, Bagnaia could be forgiven for being pessimistic after his year-high six abandonments in 2020 - including five in the final eight races - but he was full of positivity following an outstanding display.

"I'm very happy," he said. "Already yesterday I was thinking it was possible today to arrive at (1:)52.

"In the second attempt, when I started pushing, I thought it was possible. After the third sector, I was very close to this lap time.

"I'm very happy; my first pole position in my first race with this team. I would like to make everything possible to finish the race tomorrow in the best way possible. I think we can make a really great result."

Miller had to settle for fifth, next to Rossi, as he pursues a third straight podium for the first time in his career following two to end 2020.

Quartararo also had reason to be disappointed with his day as he mistimed his second run and the chequered flag denied him the opportunity to challenge Bagnaia.

Another debutant at a factory team, Yamaha's Quartararo won the first two races of the season last year but has had only one podium in 12 outings since.

The 21-year-old, who has colleague Maverick Vinales - the 2017 Qatar winner - behind him in third, said: "It's a shame I couldn't do the second lap on my second run. I had the chequered flag for a second.

"But I'm quite happy. I think we did a great lap. We tried something in FP4 that was bad, honestly - I didn't feel great on the bike. But I feel that we have great potential for tomorrow.

"We will go with that bike for the race because it's the one that I feel good [on]. I think we made too much changes today, but I'm feeling happy.

"I think we did a great, great job in the qualifying. Now we're just missing the race. I can't wait."

Neither the Ducatis nor the Yamahas should have to worry this weekend about defending champion Joan Mir, who failed to capitalise on the absence of Repsol Honda great Marc Marquez.

Mir was forced to contend in Q1 and will start from 10th, having finished eighth in his only previous Losail entry in 2018.


Provisional classification

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:52.772
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha) +0.266s
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) +0.316s
4. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha) +0.342s
5. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.443s
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.514s
7. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.541s
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team) +0.543s
9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.718s
10. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.910s
11. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +0.949s
12. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +1.158s

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