Bagnaia is 1st Italian to win MotoGP title since Rossi in 09

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Francesco Bagnaia finished ninth in the Valencia Grand Prix on Sunday to become the first Italian MotoGP champion since Valentino Rossi in 2009.

Spaniard Alex Rins won the race in Valencia, while Fabio Quartararo was fourth to finish 17 points behind Bagnaia after blowing a big lead from early in the season.

Quartararo was 91 points ahead after the first nine races.

The 25-year-old Bagnaia won seven races, including four in a row at one point.

“The hardest race of my life,” Bagnaia said. “The most important thing is that we won the championship. It’s a really great day.”

A Ducati rider hadn’t won a title since Casey Stoner in 2007, and it had been 50 years since an Italian rider had won a MotoGP title with an Italian bike.

Rins’ win at home came in his farewell from Suzuki. It was his fifth MotoGP career win.

Spaniard Augusto Fernández won the Moto2 title.

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