Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) won the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana for the fourth time in 2021, leading a remarkable Ducati 1-2-3, with Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) on the podium. The race will be remembered as Valentino Rossi's (Petronas Yamaha SRT) final dance, with The Doctor finishing P10 in front of a sold-out Circuit Ricardo Tormo audience. Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) crossed the finish line in P17, and on an emotional Sunday in Valencia, the Italian premier class race winner also said his goodbyes to Grand Prix racing.
Ducati dominate as Pecco wins again
Martin, who started on pole, took the holeshot into Turn 1 as fourth place. Mir got off to a fast start and beat Bagnaia, with Miller coming in second. Rossi got off to a fantastic start and moved up to P9, while World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was in sixth place. Miller then took the lead on Lap 2 by diving up the inside of Martin at Turn 1, but the lead was short-lived. On Lap 2, Martin and Mir broke through, dropping Miller to third, fourth, and finally fifth - the Australian regressing after momentarily leading.
The Suzukis were screaming up the track. Mir was pressuring Martin before Pecco took P2 from last year's titleholder thanks to the GP21's stronger grunt. On Lap 3, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) slipped past Mir at Turn 6, and the top four – Martin, Bagnaia, Rins, and Mir – began to open the gap to fifth-place Quartararo. In the early stages, Miller was down to P6 and appeared to be suffering.
The race slowed down after that, with the front runners holding station, but Martin, Bagnaia, and Rins were now 0.7 seconds ahead of Mir. Miller went back through on Quartararo and up to P5 after a few laps of chasing the World Champion, while Rins produced the fastest lap of the race. Rins, on the other hand, was down at Turn 6 on Lap 11 of 27. The Spaniard tucked the front of his GSX-RR, giving third place to teammate Mir. Rossi was now in 10th place, 0.6s behind Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama), who was currently losing out on the Rookie of the Year title to Martin.
Bagnaia was all over Martin's back, and with 12 laps to go, Pecco pounded him at Turn 14. What could the Italian do now that he has some clean air? Bagnaia set the fastest time with a 1:31.042, putting the hammer down. With 11 laps to go, his mentor Rossi was still in 10th place, but Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), the VR46 Academy's first World Champion, was immediately behind him. In his farewell outing, Petrucci was ranked 17th.
Martin was not allowing Pecco to get away. Martin outran Bagnaia on two consecutive laps, while Miller snatched P3 from Mir at Turn 2 a fraction of a second later. With eight laps to go, it was a Ducati 1-2-3, and the Bologna factory was on the verge of making history. Miller wasn't finished yet. Miller was 1.3 seconds behind Mir when he passed him, but with five laps to go, he was only 0.7 seconds behind Martin's tailpipes.
In 2021, there were two more laps. Pecco was 0.8 seconds ahead of Martin, thus it was now a duel for second place. Miller was getting closer to Martin than he'd ever been, but the rookie was maintaining his ground. Miller was unable to make a move and could not make it a factory Ducati 1-2 as Bagnaia won for the fourth time in 2021, with Martin claiming the Rookie of the Year title with a P2 – his fourth podium of the season. With his fifth rostrum, Miller helps Ducati make history with their first 1-2-3 in MotoGP. In addition, Bagnaia's P1 and Miller's P3 help Ducati win the Teams' Championship.
The Doctor’s last dance ends with a fantastic P10
Quartararo takes P5 to close off a title-winning season for the Frenchman. Mir held on to P4 by only 0.2s in the end. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) was sixth, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was seventh, and Bastianini's eighth place was not enough to win the Rookie of the Year award — the Italian and Martin were separated by nine points in the end. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) struggled late in the race and finished P9, one position ahead of The Doctor.
Valentino Rossi finished P10, where he began, to send off his career in style. There aren't enough superlatives to characterise the Italian's gleaming Grand Prix career, as he bids a loving farewell to the sport he loves – and the sport that loves him. Thank you, Vale, from millions of admirers all across the world. This includes me who has watched the sport of MotoGP since the year of 2009 which was the year of Valentino's last championship.
Morbidelli finished less than a second behind Rossi, with the Italian now aiming to get fully fit for 2022. Andrea Dovizioso (Petronas Yamaha SRT) finished in P12, with Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), and WorldSBK-bound Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) taking the final points of the season.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was also a DNF in Valencia, although the Japanese rider was fine following his Turn 6 collision.