Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Sports

Motorcycling-Bagnaia wins in Malaysia to all but seal MotoGP world title

SELANGOR, Malaysia (Reuters) -Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia produced a near-flawless display to win the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday and take a massive step towards his maiden MotoGP world championship title as closest rival Fabio Quartararo kept his faint hopes alive in third.

The result at the Sepang International Circuit ensured that Italian Bagnaia stayed ahead of 2021 champion Quartararo in the standings heading into the final round of the championship in Spain next month.

Bagnaia, the 2018 Moto2 champion, made a scorching start from ninth as he held the inside line to surge to second behind Jorge Martin in the first lap, while Frenchman Quartararo also recovered from 12th to remain in the hunt.

Martin, who had set a lap record on Saturday to take pole position, crashed in the seventh lap to hand Bagnaia the race lead, before Enea Bastianini moved ahead with 10 laps to go. Bagnaia overtook him with six laps remaining.

Bagnaia held firm from there to take maximum points ahead of Bastianini and ensure that he can wrap up the title if he finishes 14th or higher in Valencia in two weeks.

“First of all, I want to say I had the best ever start to a race in my life. It was perfect,” said Bagnaia, who languished 91 points behind Quartararo at one point of the season.

“I took some risks,” he said. “Following Jorge was a bit too much for the rear tyre and I was starting to stress. But then he crashed, unfortunately, and we did a really good job in terms of the championship. We can be very happy.”

Bagnaia can now match Australian Casey Stoner’s feat of winning the title to end Ducati’s 15-year wait for a second MotoGP riders’ champion.

He can also become the first Italian to win the title since his mentor Valentino Rossi in 2009. Ducati have already won the constructors’ and teams’ titles.

Yamaha’s Quartararo said he was happy to finally return to the podium after a series of disappointing performances.

“I gave my maximum today, I couldn’t do better,” Quartararo said. “I’m proud of myself. They (Ducati) had a good day but so did we.

“It was one of my best races this season. Even if the chance is super small in Valencia, at least we’ve taken it there.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)

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