Emilia-Romagna MotoGP Sunday Subscriber Notes: How Fabio Quartararo Became Champion A Race Early

I learned a new Spanish expression today. "Hasta el rabo todo es toro", which translates roughly as "the bull goes all the way to the tail". It's an expression which comes from bullfighting (a misnomer: it is bullying, not fighting, with a large band of armed hooligans ganging up on a single bull, rather than a toreador going head to head with a single bull; for that reason, I am always, always Team Bull) which means you can't trust the bull until you are sure it is dead. It ain't over until it's over. And sometimes it is over before you realize.

Sunday at Misano 2 was the proof of that. It was a day of unexpected outcomes, of shock twists just when you thought everything was done and dusted. As the late, great Nicky Hayden said to me after I had asked a particularly stupid question at Indy many years ago, "that's why we line up on Sunday: you never know what's going to happen."

So a few thoughts on the events of Sunday, ahead of some longer reflections on a day which was so very full of story lines. Literally, every class, every level of every race, there were things you could spend hours pondering and debating. It was one of those weekends.

It started off with Dennis Foggia walking away with Moto3, then Pedro Acosta salvaging a podium at the end. Raul Fernandez destroying the Moto2 field to take a commanding championship lead, then crashing out for no apparent reason and handing it back to Remy Gardner. Pecco Bagnaia leading comfortably and crashing out. The first Repsol Honda 1-2 since Aragon 2017. Enea Bastianini bagging his second podium. Two Aprilias in the top 8 for the first time in the premier class, Maverick Viñales finishing less than two tenths behind his teammate. Valentino Rossi his third top ten of the season at his final race on Italian soil, then throwing his helmet into the crowd – Rossi never, ever gives his helmets away, so this was exceptional. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

But the big thing was, of course, Fabio Quartararo taking his first MotoGP championship, and the first premier class title ever for a French rider. At the age of 22 years 187 days old, he is the sixth-youngest premier class champion, the third-youngest MotoGP champion, and the youngest ever Yamaha champion. History was made.

And it was all rather unexpected. On Saturday, things were not looking good for Quartararo. For the first time in 2021, he qualified outside of the top 12. Indeed, starting from 15th was the worst qualifying position of his MotoGP career. His main rival for the title, Pecco Bagnaia, had qualified on pole, after masterfully progressing through Q1 to dominate Q2 on a drying track. We looked on course for a runaway victory by the factory Ducati rider, while Quartararo had his work cut out trying to pass the thicket of riders he had ahead of him.

Turnaround

The championship seemed out of reach for Quartararo on Saturday night. "If I have to be honest, the championship I have not even one thought about it, because he [Pecco Bagnaia] is P1, and I'm P13 or P15," the Frenchman told us after qualifying. "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. But my feeling is that if everything is normal, we will fight for it in Portimão."

Nothing is ever normal in MotoGP, of course. The only thing you can be sure of in this Michelin & Magneti Marelli era is that something unexpected is going to happen. So we should have known that Quartararo would take the title on Sunday.

What happened? The weather had played a role all weekend, so why would Sunday be any different? Rain and a drying track on Friday and Saturday, and a cold but reasonably sunny day on Sunday. The temperature made tire choice a bit of a gamble: the soft front was too soft with the sun heating the Misano asphalt. But the ambient temperature was barely enough to make the hard front work. The medium front was the safe option, but it was not a tire anyone was particularly keen on. It was not so much the goldilocks option as the least worst choice.

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Source: 
year: 
2021
round_number: 
16

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Comments

Thank you for your insight David. A race weekend is not complete without your roundups!! Cheers

Medium front Red! Temps cooled alot during the race.

Viva Quartararo! Blue got a Championship despite their bike. Fix it fast or lose him.

What happened for Oliveira? No footage found yet. Good race. Next Round shine? Morbidelli's descent wasn't seen on TV but could be expected given his fitness. Going to try to find some coverage of his race too. Good start Franco!

Marc on a track turning the hard way. Great "right bicep flex" finish line celebration. Looked great today! Strong. Great Sunday for Pol too.

Bastiannini on the 2019 Duc looked GREAT. Eager to see him on the 2021 beating lots of riders on better bikes incl Marini. Great ride.

Aprilia 7 8 is really solid. Much was going on mid pack in the race. Fierce battling. Good show Black.

Some will say Vale's last showing was on track today. "Top 10 in Italy!" I disagree, his post riding performance is about to begin with announcing a non-Aramco VR46 funding. Then we can look forward to much more in all 3 classes. Bastiannini has arrived right on schedule.

Congrats Fabio Quartararo and Co!

:)

Sorry to be picky David, but you say "With Bagnaia out, Quartararo was automatically champion. All he had to do was cross the line".

Actually, once Pecco crashed, Fabio was champion even if he crashed, blew up or was abducted by space aliens. He started the race with a 52 point lead, and with only 50 points available from the last two races, once Pecco crashed out Fabio didn't need any more points to be crowned champion

Great idea. You should organise some merch like a leather jacket and we could get together for a BBQ! 

That is the third time Pecco has crashed out of the lead on Italian soil in just over a year: Misano 2 last year, Mugello, and yesterday.

I make no implication of anything: just thought it was an interesting stat. Pecco has been fantastic now he's hit form, and Fabio is absolutely a worthy champion.

Having said that, I think Marquez is going to smoke everybody next year. He isn't even fully fit and he's outscored everyone in the last four races (MM 83, FB 66, FQ 61). Every race that goes by makes Marquez more and more of an ominous threat for 2022 - especially if the Honda is such a big step forward as has been hinted in the press.

I hear you Sr Skankin! And, he won Sunday counter clockwise in the dry flexing his right upper arm across the line. Fair to say he has breached a threshold? I think so! More still coming if we just follow the extrapolated line angling up topwards?

...although yesterday (clockwise track, fully dry, Bagnaia absolutely having to win but Marquez staying with him until just before the crash) is a major indicator IMO.

I'm not saying I want Marquez to dominate - I'd love him, Fabio and Pecco to have a really good season-long scrap - but I can see him being back towards 2019 territory where he's on the podium pretty much every week and I can't see even Fabio matching that.

For Marc, Portimao was 6 months ago. Qatar 2022 is 4 and a half months away.

Pol finished 2nd. The gap between Pol and Marc at it's greatest was 8.4 seconds. A good day for Pol compared to recent results. It would seem Repsol HRC had a good day on Sunday. Marc's pace on the rights is good news, 5 our of 16 turns are lefts, Curvone is not a place to lack confidence. The good day for Honda was helped by Miller and Bagnaia dropping it. Also, Bastianini started 16th. Nevertheless, seeing as how Marc was on the tail of Bagnaia and chasing the win, 8.4 seconds is not too bad.

For Honda, Qatar 2021 was 7 months ago. Qatar 2022 is 4 and a half months away.

Might just add. The save on Saturday. It's one thing to plan to use an injured limb, testing the limb incrementally, aware of the feedback, looking for issues and slowly gaining confidence. It's another thing to have it thrown at you unexpectedly and it works without the expected pain or set back. He did look good.

After the race Marc said the first half of the race he was able to feel fully fit/strong and ride in his old familiar The Marc way. In the second half he had some weakness on the longer right hand corners, but was able to adjust his style and body position a bit to still continue at a good pace. 

This Honda is hugely physical to wrangle. He looks great and steadily improving. Smiles, ease, confidence. No mistakes. 

The 2022 revolution Honda awaits. It may be more balanced and rideable. Marc Marquez is going to challenge for the title 100%. If Yamaha doesn't bring more bike, especially in the outright power department, we may see domination and a gap behind Marc yet again. Fingers crossed here that Honda continue eating their own detritus on the bike for the sake of the racing. 

Suzuki stood still this yr. Orange wavered. Black is still trailing. Ducati? The bike has really come into the front, and a few riders as well. Pecco is in blossom. But this is not a well established consistency yet, is it? 

The more one looks, the more ominous MM93 appears right now. All eyes on the new bike. 

I think Suzuki had a very similar year to last year give or take a step on the podium. Unfortunately this year Ducati are on top of the tyres, Fabio has his head screwed on and Marc is back. I always felt that last year Suzuki cut a good pace through the storm waves which cursed the rest of the grid. The pace was good but nothing special. To do what they did with 2020 madness all around was special but it's now 2021 and Suzuki are back where they belong given the performance of their bike. Relative to the opposition, same outright pace as last year. Maybe for a world champ that's not 'acceptable' and i think this has resulted in an increased number of foul ups. Look a little closer though and it's also been possible to see that golden race performance which Mir produced so much of last year. In my opinion, last year was an anomaly, an opportunity well taken but not a sign that they have arrived alongside HRC, Yamaha and Ducati. I just hope they don't ruin the looks of the bike....it's gorgeous.

Congratulations to Fabio on a great season and for overcoming his issues from last year by looking in himself for the answers. He didn't need to finish the race. He didn't need to do anything after Pecco crashed. He'd've been ahead by 52 with 2 to go if he hadn't finished. Still World Champion.

I wish I could've seen him later Sunday evening - "Today will finish in a bad way, I can tell you" -  swigging off a magnum bottle. What a charming character he is. Congratulations to Fabio and to France for their first WC.

First of all, a BIG CONGRTATS to Quat. Quat's failure last year was a huge (can not be over stated) point in this year. Some riders could have folded, whined and given up. He didn't...he learned, improved, got stonger! He can not get enough praise for that. There is an NFL quarterback, who has taken alot of heat, but done the same thing. He wore a tee shirt, to a press conference that said 'nobody cares...work harder'. Quat nailed it!

Bag: he simply made too many mistakes through the year. As Marc said about Quat, on his bad days, he was top 5. But, Bag pointed out that he is where, Quat was last year. He'll be stronger next year.

Marc: anyone paying attention to the overhead shots? Marc is pushing that Honda like HELL on corner entry to stay with that Ducati. And then on corner exit, the Duc hooks up and is gone. HRC needs to take their heads out of their big egotistical A** and give Marc a bike that he can ride without selling part of his soul to the devil. Next year he'll want to prove a point! 

Since David is going beyond Dutch these days, I am reminded of the Spanish phrase that some of us used back in the 500 days, especially those of Doohan´s reign, to spice up the races at the end of the year. The Prince of Autumn was whoever had the most points during the final third of the season. As Lt. Dan pointed out, Marc is leading Pecco and Fabio 83-66-61 over the first three of the last six. One thing to watch for now...Marc will want to pick a fight with the new champ. The two have been on the podium together 8 times...7 times in 2019 and once this year, and each time Marc has stood on higher ground.

To give you an idea how Marc thinks...in Indonesia 2019 Fabio was pushing hard, hard, hard for that first win and Marc was on the verge of taking the title...in fact, if he backed off and took second he was MotoGP World Champion for the 6th time, but he took the risks necessary to beat the highly-motivated Frenchman and that wasn´t lost on Quartararo who has mentioned it a few times. And when Marc crashed in Jerez last year, it was not because he was trying to pass Maverick. He knew he couldn´t catch Quartararo, but he wanted Fabio to see on the timesheet just how much ground he took back. Quartararo carries a French passport, but he earned his first stripes in Spain and he knows how Marc thinks. He doesn´t have Le diable written on his backside...he chose to print El diablo.

The 2022 season not only will be interesting...it already is, and Marc may be/will be facing the biggest challenge of his career.

 

 

Either way ,

nice to have you with us Sir .

Watching the races on DAZN these days , do miss your Tele Cinco presence .

Mir has permanently stained the sport of Motogp and by extension all of racing extending to all of sports. He is the worst of the worst - a disgrace. May he find St. Peter unsympathetic. May he feel so much shame that he doesn't race again. Is that about right?

Sheesh, the guy makes no more nor fewer mistakes than anyone else. Only Jack seems to have a problem with him and that is what it is, it's gone both ways but only one of them has bashed into the other on a straight. I think 'disgrace' is a ridiculous term to use to describe a young racer in his 3rd season. The disgrace, I think, is in your comment. M1r is a 2 time WC so I think he's all set.

Accidents happen in racing. Mir apologized, and Petrucci didn't seem to be all that bent out of shape about it.

It'd be nice if Mir and Miller got together and had a chat to sort out their differences.

Miller isn't the grudge holding sort. Mir isn't the reckless sort. Both are aware of basic propriety. This has plenty of promise and not too much to see here...

:)

(Now if one were Italian, the other Spanish, heaps of tribal ego and a shift in who is atop the heap on the other hand...thank bleeding Jesus we don't have to 2015 anytime soon again)

Petrucci to MotoAmerica?! Did you hear that yet? Bit of a surprise. Is it a compliment to the American series that it has come so far, or a disappointment re Petrux? It may be Baz's old seat even. 

I dont think there weren't any decent rides left in WSBK. Baz was excellent on that Ducati in WSBK whereas Petrucci was poor all season. You are only as good as your last ride. I noticed 2 new bodies on the Honda bikes and Haslem out in the cold - back to BSB ?

...I TOTALLY agree with you!!! Marc is an ALPHA, no spelled alpha, or Alpha. Spelled ALPHA!!!! These last races will be very interesting indeed. Marc has one and only one goal next year...total domination!

Dennis is on point as always. The real hint was as he crossed the line flexing his right arm and pointing at his bicep.

We've discussed the possibility of a bit of sandbagging before and whilst it's not black and white, COTA was telling. His suggestion of a 4th surgery/non union may be overstated as well but who really knows? He took over the master of mind games mantle years ago. 

nb toreador is from 'Carmen' and an invention by Bizet , it is not a spanish word .

Torero is someone involved in or a fan of " la fiesta brava " 

The bullfighter is called simply" Matador " and the translation of that is  " killer " 

Bullfighting is dying out , mostly killed by going to pay-to-view TV about 20 years ago , there is none on terrerestrial TV these days except a program that used to be called 'Tendido Cero' if I remember correctly on RTVE .

David - just wondering if these photos will be in high resolution format (similar to the cormac photos)?

Thank-you for the fantastic write-ups.  It's my morning ritual after a race weekend to sit down with coffee and breakfast and digest all the great insights :)

marc, fabio, pecco together with at least supporting acts from maverick, a couple of the ktms, franco, JM, bastianini and hopefully improved suzukis!!

I particularly enjoyed all the commentary by the various riders. I think Pecco was right! He's where Fabio was last season and he's learned from it. He'll be tough to beat next season, as will be MM. I wonder who is rising next!

I'm hoping next year to see more than just the P1 and P2 get some coverage. The director seems to think there are only 2 competitors. If I were sponsoring a team, I'd just withdraw my funding through lack of visibility.

But at least we get lots of shots of other people watching racing. And someone's daddy. And film school art projects at 2500 fps. And guys with shredded leathers walking in gravel. While live racing is going on. I believe the director may not know what motorcycle racing is and in his (I bet it's a him) fumbling, incoherent and incompetent way he is trying to make a broadcast out of something he doesn't understand. Bless his heart

That was pretty funny. Not to mention sadly true at the same time.

Might as well laugh. Although the feeling I get when they cut from bikes entering a corner to a shot of the back of someone's head isn't humorous at all.

That's the name of the guy who is proud of his directing of the worst coverage of anything I've ever seen. Sergi Sendra is less competent than everyone else in the world is at their jobs. Maybe someday Sergi will be fired and an intelligent person can take his place. /fingers xed

I like Dovi, both as a rider, and as the lead character in the TV show 'Family Business'. (pretty sure he's been moonlighting as an actor).

That said, does he plan on making a return to the front half of the finishing order again?