Misano Adriatico (Italy) (AFP)
By winning his second race in a row at the San Marino GP on Sunday, the Italian Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) does not give up against the Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), who nevertheless remains the solid leader of the MotoGP world champion.
Victorious of his first two Grand Prix in MotoGP, after the GP of Aragon, Bagnaia has just regained 17 points in two weeks to put pressure on Quartararo.
But the latter still has 48 units in advance while there are only four races left.
"The last ten laps, when I saw Fabio come back, it was very difficult, but I gave everything," said the Italian.
"I was struggling to win my first race and now I am winning two at once ... I am really very happy".
"Especially here it means a lot to us, it's very special," added the Italian, winner with an Italian motorcycle in Italy.
Starting from pole position, Bagnaia saw Quartararo return irremediably, starting third, in the last laps.
But he was able to resist until the end, keeping 364 / 1000th of a second in advance at the finish line, to prevent the 22-year-old Frenchman's 6th victory this season and keep a title hope.
- "Good operation" according to Quartararo -
After his 9th podium this season, his 19th in MotoGP in just three seasons (his 23rd in all world categories), Quartararo was smiling even if he did not win: having lost "only" five points is "a good operation. finally".
French Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo delighted with his 2nd place on the podium of the Saint-Matrin GP in Misano, September 19, 2021 ANDREAS SOLARO AFP
"On the finish line you can't imagine how happy I was because I was on the limit all the time," he said.
"I gave the maximum, I wanted the victory. But + Pecco + was stronger, congratulations to him. In any case, we did the job and we still have 48 points ahead so let's stay calm."
Before the end of the season and especially the next GP in the United States, on October 3, he summed up his approach: "It doesn't matter if I play the championship or not, I want to win" every race.
"It was so difficult, I lost a lot of time at the start," said Quartararo, long third behind Jack Miller's other Ducati, which he passed on lap 13 of 27.
"Passing Jack was impossible for a long time, after I managed to catch up with Pecco, but passing him was another story," said the man who was three seconds behind before returning to the wheel of the Italian.
Quartararo's lead remains comfortable with four races to go, but the Yamaha rider has found a strong opponent with his rival Ducati.
The only one, because behind, the Spanish Joan Mir (Suzuki), title holder, is 67 points behind, and the other Frenchman Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac) is now 93 lengths behind his compatriot.
Mir and Zarco finished 6th and 12th respectively on Sunday.
Ducati Italian rider (R) and Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo in the wheel of Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) at Misano Adriatico, September 19, 2021 ANDREAS SOLARO AFP
Another Italian, Enea Bastianini (Ducati-Avintia) took 3rd place, his first podium in the premier class.
Marc Marquez (Honda) and Miller, who started second on the grid, finished 4th and 5th.
In front of his fans, limited to 23,000 due to the health crisis, Valentino Rossi took 17th place.
The Italian motorcycle legend will retire at the end of the season, at the age of 42.
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