Sunday, 07 November 2021 23:31

Pecco secures MotoGP Constructors' crown for Ducati

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A near-perfect Pecco wins to secure one crown for Borgo Panigale after a red-flagged race on the Algarve

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was unstoppable at the Grande Prémio Brembo do Algarve and picked up his third victory of the season, with his latest 25-point haul handing Ducati the 2021 Constructors title too.

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) completed the podium as the race ended slightly prematurely, with Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashing at Turn 13 and bringing out the red flags. Riders ok, Oliveira also headed to local hospital for further checks.

Rewinding to the start, Miller propelled his GP21 off the line very well and grabbed the holeshot diving down the hill into Turn 1, but the Australian was slightly wide, allowing polesitter Bagnaia through and into the lead. Lap 1 saw Mir then pass Miller at Turn 8, the Spaniard making his front row start count, with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) losing a couple of positions in the latter half of the top ten.

Bagnaia and Mir had the hammer down at the front, soon nearly a second clear of Miller. The Australian had Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Quartararo in hot pursuit too, with a duel followed by a group how it was looking early doors. And Bagnaia really started to get the hammer down on Lap 7, his lead up to seven tenths over Mir, who in turn was a second up the road from Miller. Third place soon went to Alex Marquez though, the double World Champion getting the job done at Turn 1 at the beginning of Lap 12.

As things stood then, with Bagnaia leading and Quartararo seventh, Ducati would be crowned Constructor Champions. And Pecco’s lead was stretching. With 12 laps to go, it was up to nearly two seconds over Mir, who in turn had a second and a half over Alex Marquez. For the Ducati in the lead, it only increased and Bagnaia was nearly two and a half clear with nine to go.

Mir, meanwhile, was holding Alex Marquez and Miller at bay by just over a second, with Martin, Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and Quartararo a second and a half down on the podium fight in turn.

A fantastic fight between Marquez and Miller was unfolding for the final podium spot too. Turn 1 witnessed Miller dive up the inside of the Honda, but Marquez was able to make the cutback work – so it was as you were with six laps to go. Quartararo was struggling to dismiss Pramac duo Martin and Zarco too, with Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) soon joining the scrap for P5.

With five to go, at Turn 5, it was done and dusted for the newly-crowned World Champion though. Quartararo slipped out of contention and suffered his first DNF of the season – rider ok after a fairly drama-free lowside. Focus turned then turned to the Miller vs Alex Marquez fight just up ahead, the Aussie still leading that ding-dong, with everything boiling up for a final lap scrap.

The last lap didn't arrive, however, as a crash involving Lecuona and home hero Oliveira at Turn 13 brought out the Red Flags. Both riders were conscious and eventually up on their feet, but with three-quarters of the race completed, the race was declared a result at the beginning of Lap 24. It was investigated and no further action deemed necessary. Lecuona made his own error and unfortunately made contact thereafter with Oliveira in some pure bad luck for the home hero.

With that thought, it was done: Pecco’s victory ensures Ducati retain their Constructor crown, and it was a fantastic way to bounce back after the disappointment suffered by the Bologna camp at Misano. Mir returns to the rostrum for the first time since Aragon, and from his first MotoGP™ top three in qualifying, also turning his fortunes around after a tough Emilia-Romagna GP. Miller too ends a podium drought that stretched back to the Catalan GP, although the Aussie was ready for a 2014 Moto3™ re-run, with 'heaps of tyre' ready to fight it out.

Still, Alex Marquez’ fantastic weekend ended with the Spaniard unluckily missing out on a chance to attack for the podium, but it was nonetheless a brilliant ride from the LCR Honda Castrol rider – a best result of the season for the number 73. Zarco claimed a lonely P5 in the end, but it's a result that confirms the Frenchman as the top Independent Team rider in 2021. Pol Espargaro’s P6 was a job well done for the Spaniard, and talking of jobs well done, the rookie in seventh impressed.

Only a few months on from his Turn 7 horror crash, Martin returned to Portugal and picked up an impressive result to help Pramac Racing become Independent Team Champions – with Martin now just three points down on Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) in the Rookie of the Year fight. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) finished eighth ahead of Bastianini in ninth, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounding out the top 10 from the near back of the grid.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia), Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Andrea Dovizioso (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Marc Marquez’ stand-in Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) completed the points, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) the other finishers in Portimão as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) suffered DNFs

One round now remains, and Pecco is back on top! The Italian has secured the silver medal in the MotoGP™ World Championship, as well as helping Ducati secure the Constructor crown. Now, Ducati Lenovo Team and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP go head-to-head for the Team Championship in Valencia. The season finale is just around the corner – don’t miss out on all the action as MotoGP™ returns next weekend!

MotoGP™ podium
1 Francesco Bagnaia - Ducati Lenovo Team - Ducati - 38'17.720
2 Joan Mir - Team Suzuki Ecstar - Suzuki - +2.478
3 Jack Miller - Ducati Lenovo Team - Ducati - +6.402
4 Alex Marquez - LCR Honda Castrol - Honda - +6.453 ... (Top Independent Team rider)

Francesco Bagnaia: "I’m very happy, we did an enormous job this weekend. I enjoyed every session, from the start my feeling with the bike was incredible. I enjoyed the race a lot, but the Red Flag was scary but fortunately everyone is ok. I’m happy about that, it was better to finish with the chequered but I’m glad everyone is ok. Enormous job, we won the constructor’s Championship which is so important for us, we’re leading the Team Championship, another great thing. And I think I’m definitely runner up in the Championship now so we did a good job this weekend."

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