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MotoGP: 2022 World Championship state of play

The battle for the 2022 MotoGP title will go all the way down to the final race of the season in Valencia, with Francesco Bagnaia well placed to become the first Italian champion since the legendary Valentino Rossi back in 2009.

Since then riders from Spain have dominated, with Jorge Lorenzo (3), Marc Marquez (6) and Joan Mir (1) claiming ten titles between them.

Only Australian Casey Stoner was able to break the Spanish stranglehold in 2011 before Frenchman Fabio Quartararo took the honours last season.

Now Bagnaia appears poised to end the long wait for Italy and add a record-extending 21st championship for the Mediterranean nation, as he holds a 23-point advantage over Quartararo heading into the final showdown.

WhatValencia Grand Prix
WhereCircuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia
When13:00, Sunday 6th November 2022
How to watchBT Sport

Bagnaia comes on strong in second half

"Pecco" Bagnaia made his quality known late on last season, as he won four of the final six races of the campaign for Ducati to end up just 26 points adrift of champion Quartararo.

The 25-year-old had previously shown his potential to rise to the top by winning the Moto2 title back in 2018, but before his late-season surge in 2021 he had not taken the chequered flag in the premier class.

However, the 2022 season did not start the way Bagnaia and Ducati had planned as he failed to secure even a podium finish in the first five races, before roaring to victory in both Spain and Italy.

Retirements in France, Catalonia and Germany put a huge dent in the momentum gained from his two victories, with the title battle appearing to be between Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro.

That all began to change around in the Netherlands as Bagnaia won from pole and he backed that up with victories in the next three Grands Prix as well.

Bizarrely, none of the next four races were won by any of the three title contenders, but Bagnaia fared better than his rivals and third place in Australia was enough to catapult him to the top of the standings for the first time this season.

Buoyed by his new position, Bagnaia stormed to victory in Malaysia last time out to leave him 23 points of Quartararo and needing to only finish 14th or higher in Valencia to be crowned champion.

His win at Sepang was even more impressive as he started from ninth on the grid, only to fly through to second place by the end of the first lap and then take the lead as Jorge Martin crashed on lap seven - before having to fend off compatriot Enea Bastianini to claim a crucial victory.

Quartararo title defence goes off track

Reigning champion Quartararo seemed to be well on course to retain his crown at the halfway point of the season, but since then he has struggled as Bagnaia has piled on the pressure.

Since winning the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring in mid-June, the 23-year-old Frenchman has managed a mere two podium finishes from nine races, with three retirements in that sequence proving especially costly - he had finished all of the opening ten races of the season.

Now he faces a situation where he simply has to win at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, while hoping that Bagnaia falls at the final hurdle.

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Bagnaia has previous in Valencia

The bad news for Quartararo continues with Bagnaia having win in Valencia last season, leading home a 1-2-3 for Ducati which was enough to secure a first Teams' Championship crown since 2007.

Quartararo, meanwhile, has just one podium finish from three previous MotoGP outings in Valencia, so must know that the chances of him pipping Bagnaia at the post are very slim.

And the motivation for Bagnaia will be pushed just that little bit higher by knowing that his hero Rossi will be watching on from the paddock as the final chapter of the 2022 season is written.

Looking at it objectively, the only glimmer of hope for Quartararo comes with the fact that Yamaha have won three of the last seven races in Valencia.

However, anything can happen in MotoGP and just one slip or slide would be enough to provide one final twist in what has already been quite a season.

A final footnote comes with Suzuki bowing out of the sport following this race, with the Japanese manufacturer having claimed seven championships, including back-to-back successes for British legend Barry Sheene back in 1976 and 1977.

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