2021 was the year Valentino Rossi finally bid farewell to Grand Prix racing after a legendary 26 seasons, while his replacement in the factory Yamaha team, Fabio Quartararo, claimed the MotoGP Championship but who was your BSN MotoGP rider of the year?.
Further drama in the M1 camp saw the Frenchman’s original teammate Maverick Viñales endure a rollercoaster of results, followed by a dramatic split from the Monster Energy outfit in favour of Aprilia, while laidback Franky Morbidelli was drafted in earlier than expected despite season-altering surgery during the summer break.
Ducati’s Pecco Bagnaia almost stole the show in the second half of the year as the Italian recorded nine podiums, four victories and a run of six pole positions as his prominence developed while Lenovo teammate Jack Miller kept the fight alive at the front on the second Desmosedici, alongside some dramatic tussles with Suzuki Ecstar’s outgoing champion Joan Mir.
Stand out rookie rides saw Jorge Martin pocket his debut victory after just six rounds in the premier class, adding to his four podium tally, four pole positions and five additional second row starts while Enea Bastianini stunned on two-year old machinery at both Misano outings. Johann Zarco claimed top independent rider honours and fifth place in the overall standings on the satellite Pramac, just eight points behind Australian Miller, while Brad Binder’s nerves of steel proved triumphant amid the dramatic and nail-biting conditions of Styria and saw the KTM to sixth as the season concluded.
The return of Marc Marquez proved both stunning and painful in equal measure as the eight-time world champion secured his place back on the top step on three occasions since his year-long injury before once again bowing out early after an off-track training incident ahead of the final double-header. His new Repsol Honda teammate, Pol Espargaro joined him for a sensational one-two at Misano’s Emilia-Romagna GP having finally got to grips with the RC213V while elder brother Aleix claimed Aprilia’s first podium in the modern MotoGP age at Silverstone.
A breathtaking 18 round championship brought close racing and stellar performances throughout the grid but who did enough to get your vote for BSN’s MotoGP rider of 2021?