Pedro Acosta – A star is born

Acosta

There aren’t many riders who enter their rookie season in Moto3 and blow both the fans and opposition away. But Pedro Acosta has done just that.

The young Moto3 rookie entered the category this year with an already impressive resume, winning the Red Bull Rookies Cup in 2020 and finishing as runner-up in the FIM CEV Moto3 Junior Championship in the same year.

At the tender age of 16, Acosta made his Moto3 debut in March with a strong and heavily experienced team of Red Bull KTM Ajo, meaning he had the equipment to run at the front.

It usually takes riders a few races to get up to pace with the close nature of Moto3; it can even take some a year and very often riders find themselves struggling to get up to speed at all.

It took Acosta just one race.

The Spaniard impressed everyone when he topped both FP1 and FP2 of the Grand Prix of Qatar and went one step further as he battled his way through the pack to finish second in the race, just 0.042s behind race winner Jaume Masia.

The paddock already knew he was the real deal, with Jack Miller even making what then seemed like a bold prediction that Acosta would win the championship.

Acosta
Credit: Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)/KTM Media Library

The now 17-year-old couldn’t stop impressing as he stunned everyone with a victory in the second round of the year, this time starting from the pit-lane and charging his way up the field to the front – something no Moto3 rider had accomplished beforehand.

Another two wins in Portugal and Spain saw Acosta become the first rider in Grand Prix history to achieve a podium in his first four races.

Acosta remained a regular front-runner from then on but only achieved a further four podiums, with his last coming in the Algarve GP, the race where he was crowned champion.

Ending off the season with 259 points – 43 points ahead of his nearest rival Dennis Foggia – Acosta has cemented himself as one of MotoGP’s future stars.

Moving into Moto2 for the 2022 campaign and already being linked to a MotoGP ride, the Spaniard will be looking to continue the already incredible form he has shown this season.

Faultless Fabio tops an incredible year by taking the championship in Misano

Quartararo

After a 2020 campaign which promised to be so much more for Fabio Quartararo, the Frenchman showed exactly why he is a star of both the present and the future in 2021.

At the beginning of the 2020 season it looked like Quartararo was on course to dominate the entire year. But after a strong start the then SRT rider faded away as the rounds went on and Joan Mir took the crown.

But this year there was no doubting the Frenchman to take the title as he entered the paddock in Yamaha’s factory outfit with a fresh outlook on what was ahead of him. With two rounds still remaining in 2021, Quartararo currently has five race wins including 10 podiums to his name this year. Only six times in 16 races has he finished outside of the top three in the current campaign.

The title fight looked like it would be heading to Portimao as Pecco Bagnaia was set to take the victory in the Emilia Romagna GP but after crashing out with only a few laps remaining, Quartararo’s glory was confirmed.

After the race, the new World Champion said he is in disbelief at becoming France’s first premier-class title winner.

“I still can’t believe it! I can’t even talk, it feels amazing,” he said in a Yamaha press release.

“Maybe later I can talk a bit more. Right now, I’m living the dream! It feels good to also have my family with me, and we will enjoy this a lot tonight and until the end of the season.

“Of course this was not the way I wanted Pecco (Bagnaia’s) weekend to end, but I’m happy he’s okay. Now we are the World Champion.

“I have no words and I have no more liquid left in my body to cry. It feels so good, but I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now.”

Quartararo
Credit: Yamaha MotoGP

But it wasn’t an easy task to clinch the championship in Misano. Wet weather in qualifying disrupted the Yamaha rider’s pace which saw him start the race down in 15th.

A cool and controlled charge through the pack however put the 22-year-old right where he needed to be when Bagnaia crashed out. Quartararo was tantalizingly close to making it the perfect finish with a podium position, but tyre wear and a charging Enea Bastianini ultimately led to him ending fourth.

But at the end of the top-three’s celebrations, the Frenchman took to the podium stand with his family in an emotional celebration.

“To be on the podium with a big part of my family and my family from the circuit – I have no words,” he said.

“MotoGP has been going on for quite a long time. To be the first Frenchman to win it is amazing. I’m also happy for Yamaha because they haven’t won a title since 2015, and today we won it again.

“It’s an amazing feeling!”

A truly deserving winner of the MotoGP Championship after what has been an impeccable year for Quartararo. All eyes will now be on 2022 to see if he can defend the crown.

Quartararo remains cautious, Bagnaia going for the win in Misano

Quartararo

The two championship rivals, Fabio Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia, have both gave differing opinions on how they will approach this weekend.

Heading into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Quartararo holds a 52-point lead in the Riders’ Standings.

With just two rounds remaining after this weekend, which means just 50 more points will be up for grabs, this is the first ‘match point’ the Frenchman has at claiming the title.

Fabio Quartararo, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP

But the Yamaha rider has said his mindset has changed since his second place result last time out in Austin and will be smart about how he rides this weekend.

“Austin was really tough but rewarding,” he said in a Yamaha press release.

“That second place was great for the championship, especially because we only have three GPs left.

“For this final part of the competition my mindset has changed a little. The last time we were in Misano, I was racing for the win and not thinking about the championship at all.

“Of course I will still do my best as always to get the best result possible this weekend, because that’s what I enjoy most, but I will try to be smart about it.”

When the MotoGP paddock headed to Misano just over a month ago for Round 14, Quartararo was beaten to the line by championship rival Pecco Bagnaia.

The Italian rider will need to be on the same form this weekend if he is to have any chance of winning this year’s championship.

The aim of the VR|46 Academy is to produce a premier class champion. Francesco Bagnaia Credit: Ducati Corse

Bagnaia has said the objective is clear this weekend, to win the race and keep the fight going to Portimao.

“To be back racing at Misano after the stunning victory that I took here in front of my home crowd a month ago is definitely very exciting,” he said.

“That weekend everything was perfect, and the two days of post-race testing were very positive for us. Nevertheless, we have to stay focused: our rivals will come to this Grand Prix much better prepared, and the track conditions will be different, with lower track temperatures than a month ago.

“It will be essential to work well from the first sessions. The objective will be to fight for the win and keep the Championship open until the end.”