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Yearender 2021: Quartararo's maiden MotoGP crown and Rossi's last dance

Fabio Quartararo

Bengaluru, December 27: As much as getting a new champion -- Fabio Quartararo on the honours board, the 2021 FIM MotoGP World Championship will be remembered for the farewell of one of the greatest Grand Prix racers of all times in Valentino Rossi.

After a dramatic decider at the Gran Premio Nolan del Made in Italy e dell'Emilia Romagna, the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider Quartararo sliced from 15th on the grid to fourth as sole rival for the crown Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) crashed out from the lead.

Quartararo is the first French premier class world champion in history and the first Yamaha rider to lift the crown since 2015.

With a 52-point advantage, starting 15th and seeing Bagnaia on pole was not ideal, but El Diablo kept calm and carried on, slicing back through the pack to fourth.

It would not have been enough had Bagnaia not crashed, but the Ducati rider's final stand was ultimately just over the limit - guaranteeing Quartararo the crown with two races spare.

From 2022, the fluorescent yellow No 46 bike will no longer shine on the MotoGP grid from next seasn as The Doctor decided to hang up his racing leathers.

For sure, Rossi's grace will be missed immensely both on and off track in 2022 and beyond.

The 42-year-old finished 10th in his final fiesta in a race, which was won by his protege Bagnaia.

Twenty six seasons later, after over 44 per cent of all Grands Prix staged throughout the more than 70-year history of the sport, Rossi bows out. The stats make for incredible reading, but the legend speaks for itself!

As the curtains came down on the 2021 FIM MotoGP World Championship at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, and as we say ciao to Rossi, for the quarter of a century of history and memories, the only thing left to say is, Grazie Vale!

Arrivederci, farewell, ciao, but not goodbye. VR46 will remain a presence in the paddock; a legend for millions of people and the sport itself!

Many firsts

Many firsts

En route to his maiden MotoGP crown, Quartararo achieved many firsts to his credit. In the MotoGP era, Quartararo is the third rider to clinch the title without having previously taken a title in one of the smaller classes along with Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner.

By taking the crown, Quartararo also brought to an end a sequence of nine premier class titles from Spanish riders: six with Marc Marquez, two with Jorge Lorenzo and one with Joan Mir (the longest sequence for a country in the class). He also became the first Yamaha rider to take the premier class crown since Lorenzo in 2015.

Grazie Vale!

Grazie Vale!

Year 2021 brought down curtains on the career of the most charismatic riders ever to have graced the grid. Nine World Championships, 115 wins and 235 podiums, and being the only competitor in history to win titles in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP categories, mean Rossi's name will forever feature in the history books.

Rossi may retire, but his legend will live on. The MotoGP and his legion of fans will miss him nonetheless, the Italian still very much a sentimental favourite!. For the quarter of a century of history and memories, the only thing left to say is, Grazie Vale!

Bagnaia impresses

Bagnaia impresses

As Rossi retires, it looks as though he has passed the baton on to Bagnaia. With four wins and nine podium finishes, the Ducati rider finished as runner up in the championship, 26 points behind Quartararo.

Throughout the 2021 FIM MotoGP World Championship, he looked the only one to challenge Quartararo for the crown and it was a poetic finish to see him win the final race in Valencia.

Marquez misses out

Marquez misses out

It was start-stop season for six-time champion Marquez, who ended up seventh in the season. The Spaniard had started late in the championship as he continued to recover from injuries.

The Repsol Honda Team rider was diagnosed with diplopia after suffering a fall while training for the Portuguese GP in October and is continuing his recovery to get ready for the 2022 season. With Rossi calling it quits, the MotoGP paddock badly needs a fit and an agile Marquez back on the grid to keep the competitive spirit on.

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Story first published: Monday, December 27, 2021, 16:00 [IST]
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