2021 Valencia MotoGP Race Result: Red Lights On Quite A Season

Valencia 2021 was never going to be just any other season finale, with all its goodbyes and a true changing of the guard, but beyond the rapturous celebrations of Valentino Rossi, Ducati had the most reasons to celebrate as they got their first all-Ducati podium. Victory always looked like it was going to go to a red-coloured machine and it ultimately went to Pecco Bagnaia, the dominating force of the second half of the season, who promptly dedicated his achievement to his iconic mentor. Jorge Martin kept Bagnaia honest until the final lap and secured Rookie of the Year with second position, while Jack Miller completed the overwhelmingly red podium.

Martin was a rocket ship heading into turn 1 at the start, leading the way from Miller and Joan Mir, while Bagnaia dropped to fourth. Brad Binder also made a solid start to jump into 5th but ran wide on the opening lap and allowed Alex Rins and Fabio Quartararo past. Martin started lap 2 still in the lead and quickly retaliated when Miller attacked at turn 1, Mir also taking advantage of Miller at turn 4. The Australian was soon under attack from teammate Bagnaia and his early struggles with keeping a tight line lost him another position to Rins.

Martin continued to lead but Bagnaia became his main threat by lap 4, while Rins got the better of teammate Mir for third and Miller dropped behind Quartararo, the five-man leading group starting to stretch a little bit of gap over the pursuers. Aleix Espargaro, Binder, Johann Zarco and Rossi were all hanging onto the top 10 early on, but Enea Bastianini had other ideas, already up to 11th after starting 18th.

After some early exchanges, Martin kept Bagnaia at bay towards the halfway point of the race, while Rins and Mir were struggling to find a way past the Ducatis. Mir was soon left to figure that one out on his own, as Rins joined the gravel trap once more with 17 laps remaining, leaving Mir to fend off Miller, who had ditched Quartararo. A fading Frenchman seemed to drop into the clutches of Espargaro, Binder and Zarco, with a resurgent Bastianini trying to bridge a one second gap.

After sniffing around for much of the race, Bagnaia pulled off a move on Martin at turn 14, to lead with 12 laps remaining, and the Italian immediately put in a half second gap but the rookie pushed hard to keep up with the sister Ducati. While the duo stretched one second ahead of the chasers, Miller added another Ducati to the provisional podium after overtaking Mir at turn 2 with 9 laps remaining. The Australian quickly dropped the Spaniard and was left with a one second gap to close to the leaders.

If the final half of the race looked like the calm before the storm, the clouds started to disperse with the last handful of laps, Martin letting Bagnaia go and switching his focus to defending second from a feisty Miller. The two started the final lap only half a second behind Bagnaia, the Italian slowing down a bit but not enough to allow them to become a threat and took the chequered flag as the victor. Martin held Miller off until the end, with Mir best of the rest in fourth. Quartararo caught up with the former world champion in the closing stages but it was too late had to settle for fifth, ahead of Zarco and Binder. Bastianini climbed as high as 8th, ahead of Aleix Espargaro and with Valentino Rossi taking his final chequered flag in MotoGP inside the top 10.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 41'15.481
2 89 Jorge Martin Ducati +0.489
3 43 Jack Miller Ducati +0.823
4 36 Joan Mir Suzuki +5.214
5 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha +5.439
6 5 Johann Zarco Ducati +6.993
7 33 Brad Binder KTM +8.437
8 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati +10.933
9 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia +12.651
10 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha +13.468
11 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha +14.085
12 4 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha +16.534
13 73 Alex Marquez Honda +17.059
14 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM +18.221
15 27 Iker Lecuona KTM +19.233
16 12 Maverick Viñales Aprilia +19.815
17 10 Luca Marini Ducati +28.860
18 9 Danilo Petrucci KTM +32.169
Not Classified
  42 Alex Rins Suzuki 17 Laps
  30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda 23 Laps
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I love watching him ride, but hate it when he (too often) eats gravel. Hopefully he'll give up that nasty habit next year. Maybe too late for '23 though?

Very solid ride for VR, nice way to end it. Not his standard of old of course, but amazingly impressive for a guy who's 42. No shame there, time waits for no one.

I genuinely like and respect Rins. But the script has a young gun coming in to take the second seat. There is a LOT of data points there. He is not consistent. Crashes JUST like that more than not pushing the pliable liimit. He has zenithed.

Raul Fernandez is only signed for 2021 at Orange. He will be chased for 2022, and will want Yam, Suzuki or Duc. 

Did anyone else get the sense that Vale was being escorted by Basti and Morbidelli today? Not a single pass attempt from Frankie. Not criticizing it, would have done the same. Interesting moment.

Viva 46 (and NOT Bonesaw please and thank you, fingers crossed like Nicky or Marc's fathers).

In the race we enjoyed front row seats to a few displays de jour. Suzuki vs Ducati lines and manner. Martin vs Bagnaia and Miller riding style. Another "Honda" (pre 2022?) crash for the Japanese front man. Earlier in the weekend a wiggling rear end Honda crash for Pol. Mir doing beautiful work with the fantastic Suzuki handling, including clean apex fisticuffs with Miller yet again. Bastiannini putting a 2019 bike well forward of where it deserves to be. Binder on Sundays. The outright strength of the Ducati in this current era. Aleix asserting a 9th (appreciate this rider over the years on the Aprilia!). Rossi fans and his impact on all of us for SO many years. And the beauty of motorcycle racing. 

Rins is beautiful to watch but it seems like having a younger faster teammate has undone him. He'll lose that seat if he doesn't perform next year.

Yeah Rossi was towed to his qualifying position and then escorted through the race. I'm glad the circus is over.  We've got a wonderful field of riders to look forward to next year!

Rossi was only 13.4 seconds behind the winner, and the total race time of Bagnaia was a new record, six to seven seconds faster than the last two years. That was not a slow race by Rossi by any means. Actually he was around 15 seconds faster than the previous two years. And although I too think that Morbidelli was not going to go all in to overtake Rossi in this case, Franco's fastest lap in the race was actually slower than Rossi's fastest lap, so I don't think he was just escorting Rossi through the race. Also looking at his recent results since his return, it's unlikely Franco could go much faster at the end.

Rossi also finished just 8 seconds behind world champion Quartararo. I think this was a really decent race for Rossi, not just for his age, but also for someone who knows he's retiring. Usually riders become quite a bit slower when their mind has been made up and their focus has changed. Not to mention the abysmal season he's had this year. I still think he should have been on a different bike the last couple of years.

Yes. Was a good race for Rossi given his recent form. Nice way to end. Dunno how Bastianini escorted him though, finished two places higher. I think also we need to not only ask serious questions of Franco but also Dovi, Marquez, Oli, Lecuona, Mav, Marini and Petrucci as to why they all let Rossi finish ahead. I mean there has been some talk about how fast some of these riders are so we can only presume they were holding back. However, good on Peco to keep the pace down and let the old guy finish as close as he did. A happy paddock when all the other riders can cooperate. Resentment of remote is an odd affair.

We also should thank Franco en Marc for slowing the field down that much on their way to victory in 2020 and 2019, to make the 2021 race seem faster to make Rossi look good. I never expected such a generous gesture from Marc.

All joking aside, I think he had a really good level this race, where the Yamahas in general had quite a difficult weekend. Purely based on this weekend, he could have continued. There even has been an upward trend lately. Which probably makes it a nice moment to stop.

Would love to see him ride that Ducati of his own VR46 team at some test, though! I'm sure he's going to try it at some point, just out of curiosity, maybe when nobody's watching...

Yeah, unfortunately, as has been the case so often in recent years, when the rest of the Yamahas do well, Rossi struggles and the inverse is true also. Maybe it's experience or maybe the bikes/tyres and the Yamaha in particular are moving in a direction which doesn't suit him. It just appears that a struggling Yamaha suits him better than a winning Yamaha relative to the other Yamaha riders. That sounds harsh but that's how the results pan out. I'm sure if things were more to his liking he could still be top ten in many if not most races, he knows how to ride maybe he could even win, wasn't far off last year in Catalunya. However, that's not the way it works or should work. If the bike goes one way and there are riders who can win with it...then that's the way it should go. Maybe tyres also could be better for him but that's the same for everybody. Who knows why he isn't the same Rossi as 2009, I'm not the same man i was 12 years ago either but people judge him on that basis. My opinion 2018 was his last good season but he didn't want to stop because he loves it too much. I think the pandemic might have helped extend it another year. It was good the fans got to see him finish.

The Spanish commentators on DAZN ( including Carlos Checa and Alex Criville ) were wondering if there was a lack of feel , feedback with the Suzuki front end as almost all of Rins' crashes were front end wash outs when he started to push .

Since Michelin 90% of all crashes at all circuits are front end wash outs in the first half of the turns. (Don't quote me on that number but can't be far off).

I do wonder what's going on with Rins. He has obviously got the speed and talent. None of his wins were easy rides into the distance, there was pressure in all. 5 DNF's this season. Early on his season was a disaster. 6th...4th...then a string of DNF's and when he did finish he wasn't worrying anybody. Is it a front feel thing brought on through a loss of confidence ? I mean at the moment, if you back off even slightly you're nowhere. So, to be up there in the top 10 you have to be pushing. Add to that being somewhere unsure, lack of confidence or whatever. I hope he improves the situation.

Also, do you really think that's the only he thing he said about Rossi when he was asked? Of course there was more but dorna only decided to show what you saw since it was a good sound clip. 

Backhanded? Evidently LAH hasn't listened to Stoner's recent interviews where he explained how he learned from Rossi, especialy upon reflection of the Corkscrew pass. 

Im wrong. Xould be editing. Havent heard interviews where casey praises rossi. Just goi g off the tone and  an impression casey wasn4a fan of valentinos.

Yes, lately Stoner has been saying genuinely positive things about Rossi and getting to race w him, learn from and with him. Long interviews, or I would post a clip. It IS a bit funny though that choice of phrase by Stoner "respect hasn't changed." There has been better context though too. 

^ I think I was wrong about Rossi getting escorted around while between Morbidelli/Basti. Just a thought I had. Vale raced really well Sunday, good to see. 

One thing Stoner said which rings true. At the time it means a lot. A week later it means less. Now it's ancient history (words to that effect). I think the respect hasn't changed but that includes knowing your rivals. Casey also lamented Rossi's drop in form over recent years...'He used to be a killer'. Dangerous animals should be respected after all.

One thing i heard Casey say over the weekend got my attention. He said that if he ran off track onto a green area he would back off and lose a significant amount of time. His team would tell him not to but he would point out that running off means he has made a serious mistake and so deserves to lose the time. That sort of self regulation is special. He won his titles and i can't remember anything dodgy or dirty at all. True sportsman meant in the best way.

Well put mtiberio. Ever notice how retired boxers get along? And these guys were beyond fierce competitors. Point in fact: Max Biaggi, not exactly Rossi's best friend back in the day, was there to celebrate Rossi's last race and entry into retirement. Stoner had some very nice things to say about in his long interview on Thursday. ( and seeing how his oldest daughter and Valentino share a birthday I'm certain that will bring a smile to his face at least once a year ) Rossi vs Jorge, Rossi vs Sete, Rossi vs Max, ect. Great memories. Thank God this was all recorded. Another good reason to belong to MotoGP.com as they have a lot of historical content. What a great career, what a great era. And we were there!