After qualifying down in fifteenth, nobody really expected Fabio Quartararo to walk away from Misano as the MotoGP World Champion. But he did. Because when Pecco Bagnaia lobbed his Factory Ducati at the tyre wall, at the same left hander that caught out so many riders over the weekend, he threw away all hope he had of taking his championship fight to the next round at Portimão. To be World Champion, all Fabio needed was a 51 point lead, coming out of Misano. He’s now got a 65 point lead. With only 50 points on offer with two races left (one win is worth 25 points) there’s no way, mathematically, he can be beaten. Fabio Quartararo is your 2021 MotoGP World Champion.
The Monster Energy Yamaha rider from Nice is the first Frenchman ever to become champion of the premiere class of motorcycle racing. In fact it’s the first time in 44 years that the premiere class has been won by anyone other than a Spanish, Italian, American or Australian. You have to go back as far as 1977 to find a winner that’s not one of those four nationalities; back to when Barry Sheene won the World Championship.
“To be honest, I still can’t believe what I achieved today… This feels so good! It wasn’t an easy race. On the first laps I saw Miller crash, but I thought it was Marc. Then I looked at the TV, and I saw that Marc was fighting with Pecco. Then I saw another red bike crashing. At that moment I wasn’t happy. I was just thinking ’Okay, Pecco crashed‘ and I‘m glad he is okay. To try to finish on the podium was a little bit the target, but our front tyre was in a bad shape by then, and I couldn’t make it in the end. But I don’t care. I became a World Champion today. If finished last, the result would have been the same. I have no words. I just want to enjoy this moment with the team.”
So far in 2021, Quartararo has had five pole positions, four fastest laps and ten podiums, five of which have been wins. He’s also done something that the rest of the grid have failed to do; he’s scored points in every MotoGP race so far this season. That’s why he’s won the World Championship with two races to spare. Even when it all goes wrong, he still managed to score some points. When he can’t hold on because of arm pump, or when his leathers come undone… he just cracks on. And he scores points. When a bad day in MotoGP is still a points scoring day in MotoGP, you know you’re doing alright.
If you can win a MotoGP championship with two races to spare, you definitely deserve it. He’s been absolutely phenomenal and made hardly any mistakes. And now, with two races left and no championship pressure, I expect we’ll see him really giving it the berries. That said, there are a handful of riders that have really upped their pace in the last handful of rounds. Bagnaia, Marquez, Bastianini, to name but a few; if the championship is over for Quartararo, it’s over for them too. The pressure is off, and that means the gloves are off. I think we are going to see some seriously hard racing at the final two rounds, in Portimão and Valencia.
I can’t wait.