Moto2: Bagnaia secures 2018 crown
Francesco Bagnaia is the 2018 Moto2 World Champion, taking the title at Sepang after eight wins, 12 podiums and six pole positions over an incredible season. Arriving 36 points up in the Championship, his third place in the race – paired with a second for title rival Miguel Oliveira – was enough for the Italian to secure the crown.
Making his debut on the world stage in 2013 with team Italia FMI in Moto3, Bagnaia then switched to Sky Racing Team VR46 the year after – but it wasn’t until 2015 that he finally took his first podium. That was at Le Mans, but riding a Mahindra; a marque whose history ‘Pecco’ would become an even bigger part of the following season.
After podium finishes at Losail, Jerez and Mugello, Bagnaia finally took both his first Grand Prix win and the first win for Mahindra after a stunning ride at the TT Circuit Assen. His favourite track, the layout of which he even has as a tattoo. It wasn’t a one off in that impressive season either, with Bagnaia taking another win, this time at Sepang, to put him fourth overall in the standings.
MORE FROM MCN
- Eicma 2018: live feed
- WSB: Sykes and Reiterberger confirmed as BMW announce superbike return
- BMW unveil new S1000RR
- MV Agusta reveal Superveloce 800 concept
- Yamaha XSR700 XTribute launched
- WSB: Is this the bike that will end Kawasaki's domination?
At the end of the season Bagnaia got his first taste of a MotoGP™ machine at the Valencia test, owing to a bet made with his team. They’d said that, if ‘Pecco’ were to win a race that season, they’d let him try the then-Aspar liveried Ducati.
Before he made that a full-time switch, however, Bagnaia’s next challenge was Moto2 – in the same Sky Racing Team VR46. His first podiums didn’t wait long to arrive, as the Italian took to the rostrum in Jerez, Le Mans, Germany and at Misano; enough to put him fifth overall and see him take the title of Rookie of the Year.
His stellar first season in the intermediate class was more than just awards and success – it also penciled him in as a key favourite for the 2018 crown. Starting the year on the top step with a first Moto2™ win in the season opener in Qatar, ‘Pecco’ then ceded the points lead next time out in Argentina, but he was back on it in Texas.
A key rival then began to appear: Oliveira. The Portuguese rider won in Mugello from outside the top ten on the grid, and that brought him to within a single point of Bagnaia at the top. But the Italian responded at Assen, winning at his talisman track once again. In Germany there was some drama, however, as Bagnaia was forced into avoiding action after a crash for compatriot Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and crossed the line in P12.
Oliveira then struck gold in Czechia to win another race, but Bagnaia was quick to hit back once again as he took the victory in Austria to begin a run of top results: a win at Misano, a P2 at MotorLand and then another victory in Thailand - the 800th for Italy - to really pull the pin. Second on the road at Motegi, he was later promoted to the win after the disqualification of Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up Racing) for a technical infringement – making the gap that much bigger as the paddock arrived at Phillip Island. There, he had his first match point but it wasn't to be after a more difficult weekend, so the battle rolled on to Malaysia.
There, it was mission accomplished after a stunning season in the intermediate class and another podium to secure the crown. After one more race and now as reigning Moto2World Champion, Bagnaia will then be getting on a MotoGP bike once again – this time for good as he moves up to partner Jack Miller at Alma Pramac Racing in 2019.