There is one title that Ducati knew one of its drivers would win before the start of the season, namely Rookie of the Year. All rookies in MotoGP 2021 actually ride Borgo Panigale motorcycles and it was clear from the start that it would be fun with reigning Moto2 world champion Bastianini, runner-up Marini and a talent like Martin.
In this challenge, the Spaniard started with an advantage, as he could use the latest version of the Desmosedici, but Jorge also made his personal contribution. In the second race in Qatar he took pole position and then repeated the feat in both races at the Red Bull Ring. However, Martin was not only fast on the flying lap, to climb onto the podium in Losail and then win the Styrian GP (with a 3rd place on the same route on the following Sunday). The only mistake of his season was a bad crash at Portimao. whereby he missed 4 races and still has some consequences. Jorge paid a heavy price for inexperience and showed that he hasn’t lost his pace, albeit with a few ups and downs too much, which is understandable for a rookie.
In a sense, Enea took the opposite path. The Rimini rider also got off to a good start in Qatar with a top 10 finish in his first race which he confirmed at Portimao, then ran into more trouble. The turning point came in Aragon, where he was able to enter Q2 for the first time in qualifying. The race brought him a 6th place, which he improved in the following GP in Misano with his first podium. Another bad qualifying in Austin, but also a comeback that put him in 6th place.
Bastianini is often the opposite of Martin, he feels more comfortable on the distance than on the flying lap, a weak point that he has to improve on and that has suffered from in recent years. In 2020 he won the Moto2 title just three times from the front row and without taking a pole position. In MotoGP, however, a good starting position is much more important and you have to work on that.
After all, both he and Jorge have two very experienced and highly qualified crew chiefs. The Spaniard in the Pramac team has Daniele Romagnoli at his side, who was previously with Danilo Petrucci, while the Italian can count on Alberto Giribuola in Avintia, Dovizioso’s right-hand man over the years with Ducati. Two top-class technicians, a sign that Ducati immediately looked closely at the two young people and thought about the future.
It can be said that Bastianini and Martin deserved promotion in their first year in MotoGP, but as mentioned there is one title to fight for. With three races to go, Jorge is 11 points ahead of Enea, 82 to 71, but the Italian is 39 points away from him in the last 3 GPs.
The technical difference speaks for the Spaniard, who can count on a 2021 Desmosedici, while the Italian runs a 2019 machine with some updates. However, the tracks are in Bastianini’s favor: Misano is at home and where he took his first podium, while Martin, as mentioned, did not drive in Portimao. Valencia, on the other hand, will be new to everyone on a MotoGP motorcycle.
All that remains is to close with the classic sentence “May the best man win”, with the comforting thought that we can see them fight something bigger again in the future.