Bagnaia seeks to maintain title charge

Italy's Francesco Bagnaia bids to extend his extraordinary winning run to five successive races in the Aragon MotoGP this weekend which also features the return of six-time top-class world champion Marc Marquez.

Bagnaia's run has seen him reduce world champion Fabio Quartararo's lead in this year's championship to just 30 points with six races to go.

Bagnaia, 25, is not unused to hot streaks as he won four of the 2021 season's last six races, the first his debut MotoGP success in Aragon.

His victory in Aragon came at the expense of Marquez in a thrilling duel but the latter who won the race in 2013 and then from 2016-19 is not holding out too many hopes of winning this time round.

The 29-year-old Spaniard has been on the sidelines since June when he underwent an operation in the United States on his right arm, fractured in a crash in July 2020, the fourth time he has gone under the knife for the injury.

"We have decided that the best thing for my recovery is to continue on the bike, adding kilometres for next year," said Marquez.

"Doing it at the Aragon GP, in front of all the fans, is priceless… Looking forward to being on the bike and go full gas."

The Honda rider's absence has for some of his rivals left a big vacuum.

"Without Marquez, the world championship has been missing something," said Bagnaia's compatriot Enea Bastianini.

"I think that it will be more fun with him present."

Bagnaia for his part noted with astonishment how Marquez had performed in tests at Misano last week.

"In the end he always does the same thing," said Bagnaia.

"He's back after a long time and immediately he is fast."

Bagnaia for his part is wary of talking about winning the title and becoming the first Italian MotoGP champion since the legend Valentino Rossi won the last of his seven crowns in 2009.

"We are approaching this weekend with the same approach as usual," said the Ducati rider.

"To give our best on Friday and concentrate solely on the weekend's race, without thinking about the title.

"The circuit is generally a very good one for us, and I think we will be even faster this year than we were last year."

Quartararo cut a disconsolate figure following the San Marino MotoGP a fortnight ago after finishing fifth.

Adding to the gloom the 23-year-old Frenchman has never fared well at Aragon, his best finish fifth.

The Yamaha rider says this race will be for him "the most difficult of the MotoGPs" that remain.

However, he is looking beyond this weekend to the following races which he sees as offering him hopes of regaining momentum.

"Japan, Thaïland, Australia, these are circuits I really appreciate," he said.

"We will try and put together a series of good results."

Quartararo will also have to keep an eye out for Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, who is 33 points in arrears although the spark seems to have gone out of his campaign.

The race will also see the return of 2020 world champion Joan Mir – who will partner Marquez next year at Honda – after he missed the San Marino MotoGP due to an ankle injury.

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