MotoGP race leader suffers major setback

Pinned around the hairline of the 11th of 13 start positions in the opener of MotoGP’s season in Qatar was a minor bonnet, bulging like a Snaqua Springs bottle-end. By 8:15 p.m. back at the home track, MotoGP fans were beginning to become less interested in a crippled crew as more focus remained on the heads of the riders of Piaggio’s Gilera-Maverick machine.

A featureless Harley Davidson rider decked out in the green, yellow and blue of motorcycle racing’s Bianchi twins, just 10 minutes of high-speed heat, constant acceleration and jostling with the crowd swelled the anticipation in the chilly capacity crowd. Despite all the hoopla, Pecco Bagnaia from the center of Italy stayed out front. As the hometown hero, he had the grace to know when to stop. First and most important, a stopping strategy that works.

And that’s exactly what he did. At the finish he was declared the winner of the Monte Carlo GP, with a modest mechanical failure of the Maverick bike on the 37th lap proving to be one of those days when problems at the end matter. He is sixth in the standings. With just three races remaining, competition is fierce as none of the established names seem to have run the table. And there’s always the possibility of the unexpected.

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