Francesco Bagnaia hailed his 2022 MotoGP title victory as “incredible” following what he described as “worst race of the season” in the Valencia Grand Prix.
The factory Ducati pilot only needed to finish 14th or higher at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo to wrap up a maiden series championship even if only remaining rival Fabio Quartararo won the race, a result the Italian easily cleared as he took the chequered flag ninth – though he would have won either way as Quartararo could finish only fourth.
Bagnaia’s struggles came largely as a result of losing one of the winglet’s from his Desmosedici which left it unbalanced, leading him to describe the race as “the worst of the season.”
His bitter encounter led to the sweetest moment of his professional career though, Bagnaia admitting that the feeling was “incredible” as he crossed the line to score his first premier class championship, as well as Ducati’s first since Casey Stoner in 2007 – Bagnaia also the first Italian rider to secure the crown on an Italian bike since Giacomo Agostini and MV Augusta in 1972.
“It’s difficult to say anything right now because I feel very emotional, although the best emotion of my life,” said Bagnaia.
“It was the worst race of the season, the start went well and the fight at the start with Fabio (Quartararo) was incredible because it was hard but with respect.
“In the last contact with him I lost my front winglet and from that moment everything became more difficult lap by lap.
“I started struggling a lot and was just counting down the laps, but when I crossed the line and saw that I was world champion it was incredible.
“When I stopped I was crying like a child, it was incredible considering where we started.
Bagnaia added that he reckoned his victory in the British GP at Silverstone was the “key” to his late season charge towards the title as he found “the way to be consistent”, allowing him to win a further three races afterwards and overturn what was a 91-point deficit to Quartararo after the German GP to a 17-marker victory ten races later.
“It was difficult to think about it (championship following Sachsenring crash) but I still believed it was possible, after the Silverstone race I was already closing the gap and found the way to be consistent, and I think that was the key to believing more in the championship.”