Pecco Bagnaia bags 2022 MotoGP championship

Bagnaia celebrates his World title

Bagnaia celebrates his maiden world title. Alex Rins won the race for Team Suzuki Ecstar ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM)

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Francesco Bagnaia claimed the MotoGP world championship after a dramatic duel with out-going champion Fabio Quartararo at Valencia.

‘Pecco’ held a comfortable points lead heading into the season finale in Spain, with Quartararo needing nothing short of a victory to have any hope of defending his title. However, there was early drama when Yamaha rider Quartararo and Ducati man Bagnaia collided while fighting over fourth place heading into Turn 2. The clash ripped a wing off the Ducati, causing Bagnaia to slide back down the order while Quartararo fought his way on to fourth.

But, with the Ducati carrying on to finish ninth, it put the title beyond doubt for 25-year-old Bagnaia, who became the first Italian rider to win the world title since his mentor Valentino Rossi back in 2009. It also marked Ducati’s first title success since 2007 with Casey Stoner.

Francesco Bagnaia on track

“It was the hardest race of my life,” said Bagnaia. “My mission was to be in the top five, but I started to struggle after three, four laps; the front of the bike was impossible to control. But the most important thing is that we are champions!”

Rossi admitted watching his charge lift the title was emotional: “It was time for an Italian to win the title again. This was the best possible way, and for us the fact Pecco succeeded is special.”