Moto GP

Francesco Bagnaia told to avoid Valentino Rossi mistake to secure MotoGP title

Francesco Bagnaia needs to ride risk free to seal back-to-back MotoGP world championships this weekend.

That's the verdict of former MotoGP rider turned TNT Sports pundit Neil Hodgson with Bagnaia 21 points ahead of Jorge Martin heading to Valencia for the final weekend of the season.

Bagnaia won the title last year and Martin's tenth-placed finish at last weekend's Qatar GP makes the Italian a strong favourite to go back-to-back. Though Hodgson knows Martin could make it a tricky weekend, with Bagnaia looking to avoid the same mistake Valentino Rossi made 17 years ago.

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"We should have been going into this final round with less than ten points between them," Hodgson told Daily Star Sport. "Now, there's still a mathematical possibility that Jorge Martin can win, but it's out of his hands.

"He needs Bagnaia to either make a big mistake or have a huge choking session, but because he's already won the title before, I think he's better than that.

"He'll be nervous. Nobody ever remembers who won the last race, the only thing people ever talk about is you're the champion. If he goes to attack, anything can happen.

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"Jorge Martin has got nothing to lose, he'll throw everything at it. I expect Jorge Martin to win the sprint race, the gap come down a bit, but I think Bagnaia will collect a few points in the sprint and just need a top-eight in the main race.

"But we saw in the famous year of 2006, Valentino Rossi had to ride around and get a top six finish [to win the title]. He'd been obviously fast all year and he made a mistake and crashed and Nicky Hayden rolled around, finished second or third and won the championship.

"So if Valentino Rossi can make a mistake in similar circumstances, anything's possible."

Though risk-free MotoGP riding isn't an easy thing to do, with bikes going from 0-60mph in less than three seconds and travelling in excess of 220mph at times.

"It does [make it trickier]," Hodgson, who won the the 2003 Superbike World Championship, added. "You have two choices. You can prepare exactly like a normal weekend, which is what he'll say. The problem is, when you're pushing that hard on the limits, it's easy to go over the line.

"Especially in Valencia, it's a tight, twisty track. It's like a little go-kart track. Compared to tracks we've been on recently, the track temperature will be down.

"You don't get the same feedback through the bike so if Bagnaia pushes to go for the win, tucks the front and crashes, he'll be the biggest fool there's been."

Watch all the weekend action from the Grand Prix of Valencia live on TNT Sports 2, with coverage of the main race starting from 1:30pm on Sunday 26th November. TNT Sports is available to stream on discovery+ and across all major TV platforms. This isn’t Just Sport, This is Everything. For more info visit:

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