Bagnaia: I started to cry in the helmet

'On the penultimate lap I started to cry and shout inside the helmet' - Francesco Bagnaia.
Bagnaia: I started to cry in the helmet

A dream day at Sepang for Valentino Rossi's VR46 squad saw Francesco Bagnaia crowned as the team's first ever world champion and team-mate Luca Marini claim his debut grand prix win.

Third for Bagnaia, directly behind title rival Miguel Oliveira, was enough to secure the 2018 Moto2 crown with one round still to go.

Bagnaia has claimed eight wins compared with two for KTM's Oliveira who, like 'Pecco', will join MotoGP in 2019.

"It is difficult to find the right words: we are World Champions. A unique, incredible emotion," Bagnaia said. "I arrived here with a lot of pressure, I knew I could win the Championship and tried not to think of it. Then after qualifying, something has changed. Everything started to become real.

"After the pre-season, I understood that we had the potential to fight for the title, but now it's different, we are World Champions after a record year with eight wins, poles and a great job from everyone.

"The list of people to thank is endless: Vale, Uccio and the whole Academy, Elena and Sky, my family, my sister and my girlfriend. Pablo and Idalio who were fundamental on and off the track. Then my team: David, Sergio, Peru, Carletto and Leo. It is everyone's victory.

"The last 10 laps were very hard, then the penultimate lap I started to cry and shout inside the helmet. A difficult race and Luca was great. He deserves it because he was close to the fastest all the weekend and one of the most competitive during the season."

Marini's debut victory capped a breakthrough season for the young Italian, who has taken his first podiums, pole and now a race win.

"What a race for the whole Team and what a victory!" said Marini, half-brother of Rossi.

"It was hard: I started immediately strong to try to stay ahead and breathe with these temperatures.

"I pushed because, after the warm up, I knew I was one of the strongest. I had a great feeling with the bike, I knew how to handle the tyre and the physical effort.

"I was happy with the feeling with the bike, I tried to give 100% to put some space, but Miguel did not give up until the end.

"It is my first victory in the World Championship, a special day to share with the Team, the VR46 Academy, all those who have always supported me and Pecco who has done something incredible.

Team manager and former grand prix racer Pablo Nieto said: "It's a special day for everyone: for the riders, for Pecco and his family and all for those who have worked with so much passion, commitment and dedication to be here.

"It is a joy and an incredible satisfaction for everyone because we have seen Pecco grow from 2014 till today, because we have always supported him and this year has repaid us with a truly record-breaking season before an important new challenge for his career and his future.

"I do not want to think about the numbers, I want to remember this group of guys at parc ferme cheering for a milestone in which they believed for a long time. I want to remember a Championship where Pecco has given his 100% since the first race, has shown to have a great talent and to be able to manage every situation in the better way.

"And then the Luca's first victory. A lot of work, a very important step forward and today the awareness of being able to be there to fight alongside the strongest guys."

With Bagnaia joining Pramac Ducati next season, Nicolo Bulega will be promoted from Moto3 to ride alongside Marini.