Compete for nothing. But the soul of Valentino Rossi does not hurt because he has filled her with good memories. Many of them take him to this Misano circuit where he rode for the first time on a racing motorcycle, where he won, lost, and so many times greeted the yellow tide from the podium. A circuit in which this Sunday he finished 17th, not one more point to his rickety 2021 box. But the stands were waiting for him and the local idol got off the motorcycle after crossing the finish line, he stood at the foot of the tribune occupied by his fan club and greeted the 10,000 tifosi who were cheering him on. Rossi, with his pink helmet, the one that reminds us that the man has a life beyond the character, that he will be a father and his day to day will no longer be just races, he said goodbye with both hands. The countdown has started. This was his penultimate dance with the Yamaha at Misano.
The myth has four races left in MotoGP, but the health of the Italian quarry is splendid. And he is partly to blame. We will have to continue applauding him for many more years, even if the rivals are no longer waiting for him on the starting grid. His legacy will be perpetuated by the guys at the VR46 Riders Academy with whom he has trained in recent years, who he has taught how to win races and titles. Those that he has welcomed in his town, Tavullia, a few kilometers from here, and in his Ranch, that dirt circuit where champion drivers are manufactured.
Guys like Pecco Bagnaia, the sweetness at the handlebars, his delightful flow through the linked curves of Misano riding a Ducati, impossible to understand his wild and constant rhythm, even in the final bars of a race that ended in pursuit, when he squeezed him with Fabio Quartararo tenacity, despite the fact that the soft rear rubber of the Italian was already in the last. His game of pencils and his fantastic survival exercise gave him the triumph. It is the second victory for the boy from Turin this year, the second in a row. The one that gives life to a championship that the French, leader, always seemed to have under control.
However, their lead at the top of the standings (48 points over Bagnaia) is starting to shrink just now that the final races are coming. The Yamaha has been afraid of the Ducati lately, probably the most complete bike on the grid. Always powerful. Unattainable in acceleration out of curves. Now, it is also scary when braking, at the entrance of turns. And in the shoes of guys like Pecco he has even learned to scratch tenths of the clock at full incline. The combination of speed and the bike lying down, what is called cornering, is no longer the exclusive property of Yamaha riders. So does the Desmosedici. And no one better than Bagnaia to prove it. As he did in Aragon. And he has done it again in Misano.
Especially explosive his driving in this second part of the season, Pecco left from the pole. Again. As in Alcañiz. And no one could follow him. It came out better than anyone. He took advantage of that soft rubber that gripped the asphalt so well on the first few turns. And he embroidered the first lap to get a second in a seen and not seen to his teammate, Jack Miller. The Australian tried to follow him, but could not get close to him at any time. Quartararo attacked the second position in the middle of a long race, 27 laps, and placed 2.7 seconds behind his rival. There were 12 laps left. And the Frenchman insisted on hunting down the first one. He almost succeeded. But that little bit – he approached half a second to three laps remaining, he stayed glued to the tail of the Ducati in the last lap – is what defines him as the leader of the World Championship he is today. Rational. Overtaking to the limit on the last lap can’t cost you a crash, thinks Fabio. And he did not gamble. “Getting to Pecco was one thing; overtake him, another. It was not possible, ”he said. He has just pride. It was not his day. It was Pecco’s day.
And that of secondary actors such as Enea Bastianini (Avintia), born in Rimini, a stone’s throw from the Misano circuit, on the shore of the Adriatic Sea. Another Ducati, this one from 2019, took him to the podium after a brilliant comeback. Daring in overtaking, with a scandalous pace, the Beast – as it is known on the circuits – went from 12th position on the grid to third place in the race. Along the way he passed Pol Espargaró, Alex Rins (before he also fell in the middle of a comeback), Aleix Espargaró, Marc Márquez and Jack Miller. And he lifted the 25,000 spectators present on the circuit from their seats.
Bastianini’s irreverence was what took Marc Márquez away from the podium, who continues to run in pain, who carries his Honda with somewhat orthopedic movements, his body limited by inflammation and discomfort after three operations on the humerus and a slower recovery than expected. Despite everything, the Spaniard rolled at a magnificent pace and beat Miller and Joan Mir with a magnificent maneuver on the last lap.
You can follow EL PAÍS DEPORTES in Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.