Championship comeback

Even when all seemed lost, he didn’t throw in the towel. Pecco Bagnaia is the living image of effort and that hope is the last thing lost. Since this past weekend, the Italian has led the MotoGP World Championship. A milestone that many already considered lost this season and that, in view of the losing streak that he signed in the first part of the season, seemed unthinkable. One of the great favorites seemed to fall by the wayside, with Fabio Quartararo going on summer vacation with a more than comfortable distance, virtually no worries. But everything has taken a 180º turn. MotoGP is still unpredictable.

The impossible has become more real than ever. In the absence of two races to put the finishing touch to the season, Pecco Bagnaia debuts as the new leader of the World Championship. His third place in Australia, added to a new puncture by Fabio Quartararo, earned him to cut the two points that separated them. And not only that: now he leads the French by 14 points, which gives Ducati his first match point to be champion. And he won’t have long to wait because his first chance comes already this weekend, at the Malaysian Grand Prix. In Sepang, it is enough for the Italian to win the race and that his rival, the Yamaha rider, does not get on the podium. Everything is at stake, Quartararo does not throw in the towel and the World Cup could open up to Valencia.

But the great milestone of this season already falls on Pecco Bagnaia. The Ducati rider enters the MotoGP history books even before he was world champion. If he finally gets it. And it is that the Italian signs an anthological fact never before seen in the championship: No one ever managed to cut a distance of 91 points. In fact, the maximum recorded (since the current points system was established in 1993) was Joan Mir’s comeback last 2020, when he neutralized a distance of 48 points over Quartararo to end up being world champion. Or Marc Márquez, when he cut 37 and 30 points from Viñales in 2017 and Pedrosa in 2013, respectively.

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More than 150 points in nine races

But the comeback becomes more spectacular when we carefully review the numbers. It is clear that Pecco Bagnaia’s season did not start, not even remotely, as expected. He started as one of the top favorites for the title, as the great rival of Fabio Quartararo for a new course, but his first zero in Qatar suggested that the Ducati was still not as strong as it had been in the preseason. From then until Jerez, things did not come back: he got a point in Indonesia, was fifth in Argentina and Austin, eighth in Portugal and his first victory did not come until the Spanish GP. After the first joy, more disappointments. He won at Mugello, but had three more retirements in France, Barcelona and Germany. Meanwhile, the Yamaha rider achieved three victories and three more podiums before the summer.

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But everything changed. Bagnaia returned with his batteries recharged, with an almighty Ducati and with the intention of reversing a catastrophic start to the season. And Assen was the turning point. He won the Dutch GP while Quartararo added a first zero and, since then, the Italian has added three more consecutive victories (Great Britain, Austria and Misano). All while in Yamaha the suffering was increasing. Since June, ‘El Diablo’ has not won again, He only got on the podium in Austria and has four zeros since the competition resumed after the summer holidays. 47 more points in his locker compared to the 152 that Bagnaia has added with four wins, three more podiums and a zero in Japan that could be quickly reversed. Now he only depends on himself.

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