Finishing ninth, Francesco Bagnaia won his first 2022 MotoGP championship as Fabio Quartararo was fourth in the Valencian GP. Alex Rins won his second race in the last three rounds.
Bagnaia faces a steep challenge at the middle of the season after suffering four DNFs (failures to finish) in the first, but with beginning with his Dutch GP victory, he scored eight podium finishes in the next nine rounds. Five of these were victories, which allowed him to catch and pass Quartararo. A third-place finish in Australia, coupled with a DNF for Quartararo, meant the championship was all but decided when the green flag waved in Valancia, Spain.
Bagnaia needed to finish only 14th or better if Quartararo won the race. Without the victory, Quartararo could not secure the title.
But first, there was a race that needed to be run and there was still plenty of drama that included contact between the two title contenders. On Lap 2, Jack Miller completed a pass on Quartararo that brought Bagnaia along. The pass came with a cost. Bagnaia damaged a wing
Two laps later, Quartararo regained the position and rode fifth. The contact damaged Bagnaia’s Ducati enough to force him to slide down the order. He may also have employed a healthy dose of caution in the knowledge that he practically needed only to score points.
Climbing quickly to the lead after starting fifth, Rins tried to pull away, but the top five chipped away at his lead.
Brad Binder was able to make the race close in the final laps, shaving nearly half a second in the final lap, and finished less than 0.400 second behind, but Rins was able to give Suzuki their second win in three races in what will be the manufacturer’s final MotoGP race for now. Jorge Martin rounded out the podium with Quartararo finishing ahead of fifth-place Miguel Oliveira.
Bagnaia withstood pressure from Quartararo’s teammate Franco Morbidelli in the final laps as both riders finished more than 14 seconds off the pace.
Bagnaia’s first championship was also the first for Ducati in 15 years since Casey Stoner did so in 2007 and the first time an Italian won in 13. Mentored by Valentino Rossi, Bagnaia fittingly won a year after “The Doctor” retired.
It's been a long time coming for @ducaticorse 😍@PeccoBagnaia becomes @Official_CS27's successor, ending a 15-year title drought for the Borgo Panigale factory 🔙#PerfectComb1nation 🏆 pic.twitter.com/Zjse1VfrM0
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) November 7, 2022