Bagnaia chases third successive title as MotoGP celebrates 75th anniversary. MOTOGP

MotoGP returns for its 75th season this weekend with the Qatar Grand Prix. Since 2007 the World Championship has started at the Losail International Circuit, except last year when the season opener was held at Portimão. Bagnaia, who has won the championship twice in a row, is the favourite to win again.

Francesco Bagnaia begins his quest for a third consecutive MotoGP Championship title this weekend in Qatar, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the premier class of motorcycle racing. 

From its humble beginnings with a six-race season in 1949, MotoGP has come a long way. In 2024, riders travelled the globe for a gruelling 21-race schedule, the highest number of races in MotoGP history, culminating in Valencia in November. 

The Spanish circuit has hosted the season finale since 2002 and will once again be the venue for this special race. After a 2019 season dominated by Marc Márquez, the last four seasons have been decided at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.

In a highly competitive 2022 MotoGP season, Francesco Bagnaia's victory marked a significant milestone. He became the first Italian to win on an Italian motorcycle. So it came as no surprise when Bagnaia and Ducati confirmed on Monday that they are extending their successful partnership with a new two-year deal. 

"'Pecco' is truly the perfect rider for Ducati. He represents our values at their best: style, elegance, and performance. Not only is he fast, determined, and tenacious on the track, but he is also elegant and well educated off it," said Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali. 

The 27-year-old rider from Turin, who has been with the Italian team since 2019, set a formidable standard during pre-season testing, breaking track records in both Malaysia and Qatar. "I feel great with my bike. We are at 80 per cent in terms of consistency. We move to Qatar in good shape," said Bagnaia.

An authoritative voice like five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo doesn't think it will be easy for the Italian rider: "Of course Pecco is the favourite, but Jorge Martin is very strong in pole position and Marc Márquez will always try to be at the front. He is like a bulldog, he never gives up."

Six-time MotoGP world champion Márquez is embarking on a new chapter in his illustrious career, moving from Honda to join forces with his younger brother Alex at Ducati's satellite team, Gresini Racing. 

"My goal is to feel the joy of riding a bike again, to experience something different after three or four difficult seasons" said the 31-year-old. "I can hardly wait, I'm like a child with new shoes, as they say in Spain. It's been two years since I last won a race. Can I be the champion? Of course I can!" 

Pedro Acosta arrives at MotoGP as the second youngest rider in Moto2 history (17 years and 166 days) behind Loris Capirossi.