The Italian takes the premier class crown after a tense race in Valencia, becoming the first Ducati rider to win the title for 15 years.
Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) is the 2022 MotoGP™ World Champion! The incredible rollercoaster comeback is complete as the Italian came home in the top ten in Valencia to secure the crown, having overcome a deficit of 91 points back before summer break. Bagnaia is the first Ducati rider to take the crown since Casey Stoner in 2007, the first Italian to achieve the feat since Valentino Rossi in 2009, and first Italian on an Italian bike since Giacomo Agostini in 1972.
Born in Turin, Bagnaia enjoyed MiniMoto success before going international onto bigger machinery in the then-CEV in 2011 on a 125, learning his craft before moving up to the Moto3™ World Championship for 2013. Joining the VR46 Riders Academy and then moving to SKY VR46 for 2014, the pieces were in motion before a statement season. On Mahindra at Aspar for 2015, he was the lead rider for the squad and only confirmed that in 2016 as he took the bike’s first ever win – and second. The first was at Assen and the second Sepang, earning him a special treat from the team: the chance to try the MotoGP™ bike in the post-season Valencia test.
Bagnaia moved up to Moto2™ in 2017 with the new Sky Racing Team VR46 intermediate class effort and was Rookie of the Year, taking several podiums. In 2018 he then hit the ground running and was a contender for the crown from the off, with imperious form and some incredible wins seeing him take the title in Malaysia. Next stop: MotoGP™.
Despite showing impressive speed in his first outings in the premier class in testing, it was a difficult rookie year for Bagnaia at Pramac Racing. Still, a fantastic fourth place in at Phillip Island showed plenty signs of promise. 2020 proved a mixed year for the Italian, but he earned an impressive second place in the San Marino GP and a week later at the same track, he was on the verge of a maiden premier class victory until a heartbreaking crash ended his hopes. He never quite got going again in the remaining races that year, but 2021 saw him move to the factory squad and signalled the start of a whole new chapter.
Three podiums and a pole in the opening four rounds signalled the Italian as a title contender and, despite a blip in the middle of the season, he was the last remaining challenger to eventual Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – and finished the year as the rider with the momentum. From a debut MotoGP™ win at Aragon after an incredible head-to-head with Marc Marquez to an amazing victory in Misano a week after, Bagnaia had arrived and he signed off the season with a win in Valencia, too.
2022, however, began on the back foot. A crash in Qatar, a tough race in Lombok, two fifths and an eighth signalled an unexpected start to the season, but Jerez saw the number 63 back on top in a race-long chess match with Quartararo. Then came another crash, at Le Mans, and then another win at Mugello as the Italian took the spoils on home turf. But the rollercoaster went down again as bad luck saw him take home a zero in Barcelona and a mistake caused the same at the Sachsenring. Then, Bagnaia was 91 points behind points leader Quartararo, the biggest deficit overcome to date.
The best way to stage a comeback is to start winning, and Bagnaia did just that as he took an awesome four victories in a row in Assen, Silverstone, Austria and Misano. In Aragon it was second place one year on from his first win, but it was hundredths in it as he duelled it out against 2023 teammate Enea Bastianini. Again. But the rollercoaster was in motion once more at Motegi as Bagnaia slid out on the very last lap – and from right behind key rival Quartararo, losing some ground hard-gained since summer break.
Thailand marked a huge challenge as a rainy race day gave many flashbacks of Lombok, where Quartararo has taken a podium and Bagnaia only one single point, but fortunes were reversed at Buriram as Pecco podiumed and El Diablo failed to score. Then came Australia and a crash for Quartararo as Bagnaia once again got back on the box, before a tense, tense first match point at Sepang.
There, it was once again Bagnaia vs Bastianini. All race long the two went toe-to-toe, with all eyes on the duo who will share the factory garage next season. But this time it was the number 63 who kept the nerves under control and the upper hand on track, taking his seventh win of the season to pull out a 23-point lead as Quartararo put in an impressive stand with a podium.
And so, #TheDecider had arrived. Two riders, 23 points, and one crown. It was a nervy weekend for Bagnaia at times but once the lights went out, the track lit up with an incredible race to sign off an era of Grand Prix racing. Quartararo was pushing to get to the front and it got heated for a few tense, gloves-off laps between the Frenchman and the Ducatis – and a few more – but as the race went on the result seemed set: Quartararo had to win to retain the crown, and win he would not. Bagnaia, having lost some aero in a tangle with the Frenchman, kept it calm but slipped back in the top ten once that became clear – and crossed the line in ninth to crown himself 2022 MotoGP™ World Champion.
Complimenti, Pecco! #GoFree and fiesta!
#PerfectComb1nation IN STATS
Francesco Bagnaia is the first Italian rider to clinch a premier class world title since Valentino Rossi in 2009. Overall, he is the seventh different Italian rider to do so along with Giacomo Agostini (8), Valentino Rossi (7), Umberto Masetti (2), Libero Liberati (1), Marco Lucchinelli (1) and Franco Uncini (1).
Bagnaia’s title is the 21st in the premier class for Italy and the 80th overall in Grand Prix racing.
Bagnaia became the second Ducati rider to take the premier class world title along with Casey Stoner in 2007.
Aged 25 years and 296 days old, Bagnaia is the oldest rider to clinch his maiden MotoGP™ world title since the introduction of the class in 2002. Nicky Hayden in 2006 is next: 25 years and 91 days old.
Bagnaia is the first Italian rider on an Italian bike to win the premier class title since MotoGP™ Legend Giacomo Agostini in 1972 with MV Agusta.
At the 2022 San Marino GP, Bagnaia took a fourth win in four successive GP races, becoming the first ever Ducati rider to do so in any class of GP racing. Since the introduction of MotoGP™ in 2002, Bagnaia became the fourth different rider to take four (or more) wins in four (or more) successive races in the class along with Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez.
With 11 premier class wins, all with Ducati, Bagnaia sits in third place on the list of Ducati riders with most wins in the class behind Casey Stoner (23 wins) and Andrea Dovizioso (14).
With 20 premier class podiums so far, Bagnaia is the fifth Ducati rider with most podiums in the class, behind Jack Miller (21 podiums). Casey Stoner leads the way with 42 podiums.
This season Bagnaia has stood on the MotoGP™ podium more than any other rider (10 times), including seven wins. Only two Ducati riders have scored seven (or more) wins in a single season: Casey Stoner (10 in 2007) and Bagnaia (2022).
After the German GP, Bagnaia was sixth in the Championship, 91 points off the leader Fabio Quartararo, meaning this is the best point recovery to take the crown since the introduction of the point scoring system in 1993.
Since 2001, there have been only two occasions on which the rider who clinched the title at the end of the year didn’t finish within the top five in the opening race of season: Joan Mir (2020) and Francesco Bagnaia (2022); they both crashed out.
Bagnaia also became the first rider to clinch the premier class title despite five DNFs throughout the season.
Bagnaia is only the second rider to clinch the premier class world title having previously clinched the Moto2™ title, along with Marc Marquez.
How does it feel?
“I’m very, very happy because on the day of the worst race of the calendar I’ve had a special sweet taste When I crossed the finish line and saw my pit board with writing saying I was the World Champion everything was brighter and nicer. My emotion is incredible in this moment. It wasn’t easy because after the fight with Fabio I lost a winglet and from that moment everything was a nightmare. I’ve done lap by lap trying ride defensive lines, but it was very difficult, and it took so long to finish the race. I’m very proud of my team, myself and of what we did because it’s incredible.”
Did you think it was going to be difficult after Germany?
“Yeah, like I said one or two races ago, I lost the faith in the championship for one hour after the Sachsenring race but then after that I knew there was still a chance to be World Champion. Sincerely, the work we did this year was incredible. We performed in an incredible way in the second part of the year. We tried to analyze everything, at home also, to see what to improve, why I was crashing and I was making so many mistakes, and from that moment we’ve just done some incredible. I’m very happy for that because we really deserve this title.”
Most difficult moment + best moment?
“The most difficult was Sachsenring, because I was very competitive like in Le Mans. I was there with a possibility to win the race, but I crashed and in that moment I realised my weak point was that. I was a rider with a lot of ups and downs, with good speed but no consistency. To accept that was not easy. From that moment I recognised I had a problem and I tried to improve myself, also thanks to the people at home that worked with me everything day and helped me a lot. I think I improved myself a lot this season.”
On Ducati’s long wait:
“I saw many faces crying, and it was incredible. I was crying too. It was an amazing victory because I was feeling the weight on my shoulders to give back this title to my team, to Ducati, and to Italy. When I spoke to Vale, he said to me yesterday that you have you be proud to have this possibility, not everyone can have the same feeling. It’s true that you feel the pressure, you feel anxiety, you feel fear, but you have to be proud of it, be happy to have it, and try to enjoy it. I tried to do it, and today in fact it didn’t work but sincerely I’m very happy to think who we have as a mentor and leader.
First Grand Prix: Qatar 2013, Moto3™
First pole position: Silverstone 2016, Moto3™
First podium: Le Mans 2015, Moto3™
First victory: Assen 2016, Moto3™
Grands Prix: 172
Pole positions: 18
Fastest laps: 14
World Championships: Moto2™ (2018), MotoGP™ (2022)
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