MotoGP-bound Rossi protege Bagnaia wins 2018 Moto2 championship
MotoGP-bound Valentino Rossi protege Francesco Bagnaia wrapped up the 2018 Moto2 title by finishing third at Sepang behind race winner Luca Marini and title rival Miguel Oliveira
Pramac Ducati 2019 MotoGP signing Bagnaia arrived in Malaysia 36 points clear of Oliveira, who has also secured a MotoGP graduation for next year and will join Tech3 as it moves from Yamaha to KTM.
That championship cushion meant Bagnaia - who rides for Rossi's VR46 team -could afford to finish outside the points as long as Oliveira did not end up in the top two.
Bagnaia was immediately on the move when the 18-lap race began, jumping up from sixth to second on the opening lap.
Oliveira slotted himself right behind Bagnaia and passed him into Turn 4 on lap seven, but second place simply was not enough to prolong the title fight to the Valencia finale.
Bagnaia was declared champion, having developed an unassailable 32-point lead over Oliveira with only 25 to offer in the final race.
There had been nothing to choose between the pair for much of the season, but when the series resumed after the cancelled Silverstone race Bagnaia made a break with a streak of three wins and a second place from the next four rounds.
Bagnaia had a first shot at clinching the title at Phillip Island a week ago, but both championship contenders struggled in Australia - Oliveira pulling a single point back as they finished only 11th and 12th.
That at least gave Bagnaia a clear shot at clinching the title ahead of the Valencia finale.
Bagnaia knew even before the season started that he would be on the MotoGP grid next year, having secured his Pramac seat in February.
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