Fabio Quartararo rode into the history books at this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, becoming the first Frenchman in history to lay hands upon the Premier Class MotoGP crown.
Despite starting from fifteenth, El Diablo rode to a remarkable P4, doing enough to clinch the 2021 title from Francesco Bagnaia, who’s championship hopes followed him into the gravel following an unpredicted crash from a comfortable lead.
Up front, it was a Repsol Honda 1-2 with Marc Marquez taking back-to-back wins, followed by teammate, Pol Espargaró in P2. Enea Bastianini pinched the third spot on the podium from Quartararo in a last lap attack.
Before lights out, the front row was formed by the Ducati Duo of Bagnaia and Jack Miller, with Luca Marini going from P3. Fabio Quartararo sat back in P15 with work to do in order to take home the title.
Off the line, it was pole man, Bagnaia who made a rocket start towards turn 1, taking the lead with Miguel Oliveira coming through into P2, soon being reclaimed by Miller.
An aggressive Marquez fought his way into P3 on the opening lap. At the front, Bagnaia began to find rhythm, holding off his teammate and a confidence filled Marquez.
The Honda rider came strong, setting the fastest lap of the race and asserting pressure on his Ducati rivals. Meanwhile, Pol Espargaró was sat in fourth, just over a second behind his teammate.
Marquez’s race became easier as Miller took a trip through the gravel with 24 laps to go. The Aussie crashed out of P2, gifting a position to the 8-time World Champion.
Downfield, Quartararo sat in P9 with 19 laps to go, making steady progress from far back on the grid.
With the podium positions still occupied by Ducati and Honda, Oliveira sat in P4 ahead of Franco Morbidelli and Aleix Espargaró.
A battle unfolded between the midfielders of Morbidelli, Quartararo, Alex Rins, Johann Zarco and Luca Marini with 13 laps to go. After a scramble for position, Rins ran in P6, with Quartararo moving into P7 followed by Marini, Zarco and Morbidelli.
Back at the front of the pack, Bagnaia threw down the fastest lap of the race.
Quartararo edged past Rins into P6 with 10 to go, his next challenge would be the Aprilia of Espargaró, running in fifth. A jostle for position between the pair ended with Quartararo coming out on top.
Meanwhile at the front with 5 remaining, Bagnaia edged away from Marquez, pulling a gap of almost a second.
Heartbreak struck for the Ducati rider as his race took a huge turn for the worst, hitting the deck in dramatic fashion and handing the World Championship title to Quartararo.
Bagnaia’s crash also gave Marquez a sizable lead of over eight seconds from Espargaró and Quartararo. Just outside of the podium positions, Bastianini began to close on the newly crowned World Champion.
At the chequered flag, Marquez strolled to the line to take his first back-to-back victory since 2019. Espargaró achieved his first podium in the class finishing in P2, while Bastianini snatched the final step of the podium from Quartararo on the final lap of the race.
Zarco came across the line to take fifth followed by Rins and an Aprilia P7 and P8, with Marini in P9.
It was an emotional farewell to the demigod of local man Valentino Rossi, who rode for the last time on home soil following a magnificent 26-year career within the world of MotoGP. The Doctor finished his 44th Grand Prix race on home soil in P10.