Moto2: One last crack of the whip for title rivals

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Francesco Bagnaia was back on the podium in Sepang, and although key rival Miguel Oliveira finished just ahead of him, the 16 points for second were more than enough for the Italian to wrap up the crown. Teammate Luca Marini also won the race – his maiden Grand Prix victory – making it an incredible day to remember not just for ‘Pecco’ but for the team. It caps off an incredible season, and sets up the perfect swansong in Valencia.

Bagnaia has been a serious force to be reckoned with this year, taking control of the standings pretty early and hammering home that advantage in the latter half of the season. So will his final race in see him back on the top step? Or can Oliveira –  last year’s winner – or Fabio Quartararo take another Moto2 win to also leave for the premier class on a high and another addition to their CVs?

Bagnaia will surely feel the most confident heading into Valencia, but the spring in Marini’s step will likely mirror that of his compatriot; fresh as he is from a maiden win. Meanwhile Brad Binder is looking for more of a bounce back after a tough Malaysian Grand Prix, but the South African did wrap up third overall in the standings at Sepang. The likes of Marcel Schrötter want to move back towards the front, too – with the German still looking for that maiden win and maiden pole.

Alex Marquez was another who, like Binder and Schrötter, didn’t get the results he’d wanted on race day last time out. The 2014 Moto3 world champion dominated practice and qualifying – half a second clear on pole – but it didn’t become his first win of the year. He has chance to take that in Valencia, however, at a track that holds good memories for him and where he’s racing in front of a home crowd.

His teammate will also be doing that and is one who will graduate to the premier class next season. With just two points between them as is stands, can the rookie of the year strike for his first – and only – Moto2 win before he moves up? Or will experience play in Marquez’ favour?

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer