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It's match point at Misano; Rossi ready for last dance

MotoGP

Bengaluru, October 22: It is a key weekend at the Misano World Circuit Marco Somoncelli for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo gets his first shot at the 2021 FIM MotoGP World Championship crown while Valentino Rossi races on home turf for the final time.

If he wins, Quartararo is the champion. If he's second and Francesco Bagnaia behind him, still he is the champion. From there the gaps in the points awarded get smaller and the possibilities more varied, although it would seem unlikely they'd both finish and finish far from the podium.

On the other side of the coin, if Bagnaia is far enough ahead and gets the gap to below 50 again, he stays in the game and the battle rages on to the Algarve GP. Does that guarantee a gloves off tussle for glory? It could be quite the showdown.

Title fight

Title fight

Quartararo is now 52 points clear after pipping Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) to second in Austin and the Frenchman also, in doing so, halted what had been some serious momentum for Pecco after back to back wins for the Italian.

But now it's the turf that saw the two so closely matched on our last visit, it could be a hard-fought duel for the race and, potentially, the crown. Fireworks? There may well be plenty, and the magic number is 50: if Quartararo is that far ahead - or more - by the flag, he is the 2021 MotoGP world champion.

Rossi's swansong at home

Rossi's swansong at home

There may be three races left for the number 46 to shine the sun and moon in the premier class of Grand Prix racing, but the third to last event of the Doctor's tenure will be extra special in its own way. Home turf, at a venue likely no one on Earth knows better or has raced more, and in front of his final home crowd in gloriously uproarious yellow, it's its own occasion. The end of an era for an area that has become defined first by what was the new kid on the block searing through the ranks with such charisma and style, and then the icon who has created one of the most successful academies in motorcycle racing, based just up the road.

His ranch adds some significant acreage to his home village of Tavullia, just as his presence and legacy have added so much to the region and the sport. Emotional doesn't quite explain it; it's a point of no return for all those who've raced, watched and loved one of global sport's biggest icons. On track, at least.

Marquez factor

Marquez factor

It also seems likely, comparing the first GP we had at Misano and then Texas, that Marquez will feature in the fight for the top five once again as a minimum, even as he continues to get back to his full form.

And reigning champion - at the last Grand Prix this year where that phrase may be true - Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) has shown he is pretty handy at the track too.

Binder joins Yamaha

Binder joins Yamaha

Meanwhile, there has been a change at the top with Darryn Binder joining Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team for 2022 season. The South African will team up with Andrea Dovizioso in Yamaha's new-look Independent Team next season.

By definition, all those lining up for the Emilia-Romagna GP are at least one of those three, and it will mark a moment in time for Rossi and, potentially, for a new world champion too. Make sure you do not miss a minute as MotoGP returns to Misano, with the lights out for Quartararo's first match point and the Doctor's last dance at 2pm local time (5.30pm IST) on Sunday.

(By a special arrangement with Dorna Sports)

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Story first published: Friday, October 22, 2021, 11:53 [IST]
Other articles published on Oct 22, 2021