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Bagnaia closes in on MotoGP title as Di Giannantonio wins in Qatar

His second place means Bagnaia now leads the championship by 21 points going into the final round in Valencia next weekend.

Fabio Di Giannantonio took his first MotoGP victory in Qatar, and some ‘revenge’ on Sunday as Francesco Bagnaia survived a late scare to finish second while his only title rival Jorge Martin limped home 10th.

Defending champion Bagnaia leads Martin by 21 points with one weekend left in Valencia where the maximum haul for a rider who wins both the sprint and the main race is 37 points.

“We managed to do a great start. I was alone in the front. I tried to push but Digi today was incredible,” said Bagnaia.

Bagnaia swept into the lead from the start on his Ducati with only fellow Italian Di Giannantonio able to keep up. Bagnaia went off the track after the Ducati Gresini rider overtook with four laps to go, but recovered to finish second.

“Unluckily, I got sucked by his slipstream on the braking and I went totally wide,” said Bagnaia.

Luca Marini was third on a VR46 Ducati. Di Giannantonio was delighted by his first win.

“In the middle of the race I was struggling a little bit but I saw he was making little mistakes and I thought ‘hey maybe this is my opportunity,” he said.

Martin had cut Bagnaia’s lead in the standings to seven points by winning the sprint the day before. But in the main race, the Spaniard slipped to ninth after a bad start and struggled for pace throughout on his Ducati Pramac, eventually coming home 10th.

Bagnaia said he as pleasantly surprised by the result.

“Honestly, I was expecting (the race) from yesterday would be the same as today,” he said. “We managed to open a lot the gap on Jorge.”

There is one event left this season, at Valencia next weekend, where Bagnaia could wrap up a second title in Saturday’s sprint race.

“Valencia is very important,” said Bagnaia

Di Giannantonio also finished second in Saturday’s sprint race.

“Man, I don’t know what to say been incredible weekend,” he said at the finish.

The 25-year-old is being replaced by six-time world champion March Marquez at Gresini and does not have a ride for next season, with few saddles still available.

“This is a real redemption today,” he said. “A real revenge for myself but also for everybody who doubted me. We did it guys we are a MotoGP winner.”

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