Round 16 of the 2021 MotoGP season came to an end at Misano, Italy, and it happened to be the deciding track for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship as well. Fabio Quartararo sealed the 2021 rider’s championship with 267 points after finishing P4. He started from P15 on the grid after failing to get into Q2 for the first time in his MotoGP career. Speaking of the first time, HRC Honda got their first One-Two finish in the 2021 season. Marc Marquez won the race, making it his second race that he won back to back after his victory at the Circuit of the Americas. And the victory was even sweeter for HRC Honda with Pol Espargaro finishing at P2.
However, things were not good in the Italian garage as Ducati Corse lost both their riders in a crash on the same turn at two different points of the race. Francesco Bagnaia lost his title fight towards the end of the race after keeping a charging Marquez behind throughout the race. Jack Miller was also a victim as he lost the front end of his Ducati on the same turn, and in similar conditions to Bagnaia. One highlight, however, can be Enea Bastianini’s race from P16 and finishing at P3 after snatching the podium from the current world champion on the last lap. With all that said, let us now look at the top 5 takeaways from the 2021 Misano GP, the second one.
1. Fabio Quartararo seals the world title with three races left in the 2021 MotoGP calendar
Fabio Quartararo was on the back foot going into the race week. He was not able to put in decent lap times in the practice sessions, wet conditions or otherwise, and was starting in Q1 for the first time since he joined the factory Yamaha team.
He finished P5 in Q1 which meant that this was the first time he couldn’t see himself to Q2 and he would be starting the race from P15 on the grid. And to make matters worse, his rival for the title battle Francesco Bagnaia was going to start from pole.
He had a rocky start from holeshot and lost two places on the opening lap. But he managed to set in decent lap time and moved up the order as the race progressed. In the closing stages, he moved all the way to P5 after completing some close overtakes.
With Miguel Oliveira’s crash, Quartararo was in contention for a podium finish. But on the final lap of the race, he was picked up by a charging Enea Bastianini on a two-year-old factory Ducati run by Avintia.
Even though he missed out on the opportunity for a podium celebration, Bagnaia’s crash meant that he was crowned the world champion well before the race ended. The 22-year-old Monster Yamaha rider wore the golden helmet and proved to the world why he was chosen as Valentino Rossi’s replacement.
2. Ducati’s tragic loss in its own backyard
Misano is considered as Ducati’s backyard. This track is where Ducati runs all its tests for their MotoGP bikes and many road bikes as well. But as MotoGP’s weekend unfolded, it was clear that every step the Italian team took had to be accurate as the World Championship title was on the line.
The Ducati boys showed great pace right off the bat and dominated the practice sessions with good lap times, even in the rainy conditions. And this momentum carried on even in the Q2 session as factory Ducati riders Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller were able to lock out the front row with a P1-P2 starting position on the grid.
However, both factory riders chose to opt for the Hard front tyre compound with Medium compounds for the rear. This was a last-minute decision by the team before the start of the race.
But after the start, Miller found it hard to get the temperatures of the front tyre to optimum condition and lost the front going into turn 15 with 24 laps to go. With the race moving towards dusk, the temperature dropped further and Bagnaia also lost his front in the same fashion and the same turn as Miller.
The bitter taste was further worsened with Jorge Martin’s crash and Johann Zarco’s difficult performance. With Bagnaia’s loss, Ducati also lost its opportunity to keep the constructor’s championship fight alive and lost after their boost from the second half of the season.
3. Marc Marquez’s back to back wins
Marc Marquez is displaying a solid road to recovery with his back to back wins. This victory in Misano also marks his third of the season and now has two more races to prove his mettle.
For the most part of the race, Marquez was on Bagnaia’s tail and was not letting the Bologna bullet rider make a lead. Both were exchanging fastest laps but Bagnaia was not able to shake off Marquez.
However, with four laps to go, Bagnaia crashed out in turn 15 and handed Marquez a cruise to victory. Marquez currently stands in P6 with 142 points on the championship table and has the potential to finish the season as high as P4, ahead of Johann Zarco.
Marquez’s performance in the second half of the season is giving him and HRC Honda some amount of hope for their chance at the title in the 2022 season.
4. Enea Bastianini’s last lap fight for the podium
Enea Bastianini is one of the surprise young riders on the grid. He started from P16 on the grid and managed to fight his way up to the top three on the closing stages of the race.
Bastianini, who is riding a two-year-old Ducati run by Avintia Esponsorama, is showing great potential with his second podium finish in the season so far. Misano might be a track where the Ducati is strong, but having to ride an outdated machine, let alone from the back of the grid, showing the potential of the rider.
Bastianini had closed up to Quartararo on the final lap for the P3 position and pinched the podium in the second half of the track with a decisive overtake. This was Bastianini’s second podium finish in the season so far and puts hope in the Ducati rider’s stable.
Bastianini currently stands P13 on the championship table with 87 points and has the chance to attack Alexis Espargaro at P8 with 113 points. He would surely be a rider in contention for a seat in Pramac Ducati, but the only thing to see is who will he replace? Our guess, Johann Zarco.
5. Factory Yamaha’s sweet 2021 MotoGP title clench
Monster Yamaha had a bittersweet season so far as they sealed the title for the 2021 season in style with two races in hand but at the same time, they had to end their toxic relationship with Maverick Vinales in the middle of the season.
Yamaha had big problems before the start of the season as their 2020 campaign highlighted a lot of their issues and fundamental problems of the bike. But with Quartararo switching to the team, he proved why Yamaha’s surprise signing was the right decision for the Japanese team.
But with work done on the 2021 bike to negate the issues, Quartararo and Yamaha managed to start the season strong, nabbing five victories in the nine podium finishes so far. It is safe to say that Quartararo almost single-handedly gave Yamaha their much-awaited title in 2015.
This is one of the few world championships to come in the way of Fabio Quartararo and if his relationship stays well with Yamaha, the Japanese team might just beat Honda in the title fight for 2022, who will have a fully recovered Marquez at the tip of their spearhead.
With that said, there are two more races to go in the 2021 season with the Algarve GP starting on November 7. Even though the championship battle is over, riders on the grid will be challenging each other on track for the glory of a race win and try to finish as high in the points table as possible. With Valentino Rossi’s final race in the Italian soil coming to an end, we now have just two more races to see the number 46 in action in the neon colours. For more news and updates from the world of motorsport, stay tuned to evo India.