It was a race where you often didn’t know where to look, or who to cheer for, and the ending – with all of its multiple and simultaneous celebrations – was just as special for lots of people at once.
First and foremost, we have a new World Champion. Fabio Quartararo took the championship when Pecco Bagnaia threw his mathematical chances at a world title, slim as they were, into the gravel at Turn 15.
I don’t think anyone deserved the Championship more than Fabulous. He’s been brilliantly consistent all season, single-handedly making the Yamaha look better than what it is, much like Marquez does with his Honda.
And Marquez certainly made his Honda look good this weekend, securing his first win at a right-hand track in more than two years. So he was very happy. He knew perfectly well his win only happened because Bagnaia crashed in front of him – and admitted he had pretty much given up trying to catch and pass Pecco…and then Pecco fixed all that for Marc. And Fabulous.
The other big thing that was happening while all these big things were happening, was Rossi’s last ride at Misano. Moto2 VR46 riders, Vietti and Bezecchi, had come out in the previous race on Rossi Yellow bikes in Rossi Yellow leathers emblazoned with “GRAZIE VALE” emblazoned on them.
Rossi’s half-brother, Luca Marini, followed suit in the MotoGP race, where he’d qualified third on the grid.
I thought it was a wonderful gesture from riders who owed everything they were to The Doctor, a racer who has given so much back to the sport which he loves and which defines him.
The crowd howled and fired flares and smoke bombs, and when Rossi threw his special one-off helmet into the crowd after the race, the bloke who caught it must have been torn between selling it to buy a villa on the Adriatic, or setting it in amber and building a church around it.
So that’s how we ended up. But how we got there was just as fascinating.
Misano is cold this time of the year. And wet. And it was wet for almost all the Practice sessions. Even Qualifying was kinda damp, which accounts for Fabulous starting from 15th on the grid.
Didn’t stop him walking around topless. It’s what he does, regardless of the ambient temperature. Can’t say as I blame him. If I looked like that with my shirt off, I’d be doing it too.
The calculations said that if he beat Pecco by three points, the title was his. But Pecco had been dazzlingly quick all weekend, was starting on pole, with his team-mate Jack beside him to ride shotgun, and Luca Marini in third.
Row two was Pol, Miguel Oliveira, and Franco Morbidelli, while row three was Marc Marquez, Iker Lecuona, and Danilo Petrucci – and if that doesn’t tell you how sketchy the pre-race conditions were, you must be new here.
On race day, Brad Binder entertained the crowd by crashing on the sighting lap – which is the lap they do when they come out of the pits and form up on the grid. It was sunny, the track was dry but green, and it was cold. Which is why no-one could understand why Bagnaia and Miller decided to go for hard tyres when no-one else was even entertaining that kind of thinking.
Rossi, blessed be his name, was starting in second-last place. Well, it was last, but Brad had to start from the back of the grid because of his oopsie. Did the crowd care? Not in the least. They cheered Rossi, booed Marquez, and all was right and correct in Italy.
The lights went off and Bagnaia was gone. Miller quickly shuffled himself in behind his team-mate, and Marquez quickly passed Oliveira to grab third.
What then happened was what was always going to happen in this situation. Jack did what he’d said he was going to do, and blocked the crap out of Marquez, while Pecco worked at getting heat into his hard-compound tyre.
It was then revealed that defending World Champion Joan Mir had jumped the start and was given a Long Lap Penalty. But before he could take that, he took out Petrucci instead. I’m sure Jack was thanking karma, but then he went down at Turn 15 – and everything got much more interesting.
Bagnaia and Marquez very quickly gapped the field by two seconds, and it was clear Marquez was planning on torturing Pecco long and hard. Pecco survived this kinda stuff from Marquez before, defending seven overtakes to take the win. But that was in the last two laps of the race. Not from the first two with 22 more to go. But Marquez seemed happy just to apply the pressure without trying an overtake at this stage of the game.
Behind them, Pol Espargaro had worked his way into third, but he didn’t have the pace to catch them. For his part, Fabulous was back in 10th, having made up five places from his grid position, and closing on Rins and Martin. Zarco was behind him in 11th.
Before that fifth lap was done, Rins passed Martin, as did Fabulous. Taka Nakagami crashed, but managed to rejoin and ended up finishing last. Alex Marquez retired due to mechanical issues, so it was only the HRC Hondas which remained, running second and third.
With 17 laps left, Iker Lecuono didn’t make it through Turn One and went back to the change rooms. Jorge Martin joined him on the following lap.
Two laps later it was still Bagnaia leading Marquez around, followed some way back by Pol, then Miguel Oliveira, Aleix Espargaro, Morbidelli, Rins, Marini, and Fabulous in ninth.
Franki waited another two laps before letting Rins, Marini, and Fabulous past – and the bloke chasing his world title was now in seventh. It still wasn’t where he had to be to secure the title this race. Not while Pecco was leading.
And Pecco looked to be wearing Marquez down. The Spaniard was not looking as threatening as he was in the earlier laps. Fabulous, for his part, had grabbed sixth from Rins in Turn Four, and two laps later, went past Aleix to grab fifth. Aleix tried to pass him back, and did, but it didn’t last long.
Seven laps from the end, Dovi got himself a Long Lap Penalty, and I won another bottle of whisky care of an ongoing bet where I win a bottle each time Rossi beats Dovi. I’m two for two now.
Franki copped a Long Lap penalty two laps later and with a mere five laps to go, Pecco handed Fabulous the world title when he slid out on Turn 15.
Was it his tyre choice? Possibly. Was it Marquez? Maybe – but Pecco had already broken Marquez, who later admitted he had given up chasing the Italian.
The only interest that remained with three laps left to go was if Bastianini was going to get around Fabulous without taking him out. The rookie was having another magnificent home-track race. He’d come from 16th on the grid, and he was keen on another podium. He actually stood Fabulous up in the second-last corner and grabbed third off the new World Champion.
A glowering Zarco finished fifth, clearly upset at not being the first Frenchman to win a world MotoGP championship – as if that was ever gonna happen for him.
So that’s the championship, with two more rounds left to go – Portimao (again) and Valencia – and I don’t for one minute think anyone’s going to settle down and cruise. That is not what these blokes do.
Congratulations to Fabulous. He worked hard for that.
Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.
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