After his sensational victory in Aragon, plus Quartararo’s misfortune, Bastianini is now only 48 points behind the reigning MotoGP champion.
The current MotoGP standings have the top three separated by just 17 points which is the smallest margin since the beginning of the season, and while Francesco Bagnaia might be Ducati’s best hope of securing a first title since Casey Stoner in 2007 since he’s just ten points down, Bastianini can’t be ruled out.
Since Assen, which was five races ago, Bagnaia has reduced his deficit from 91 points to just ten, showing big points swings can take place.
Of course, mistakes from Quartararo (Assen) and misfortune last time out has played a big role in helping Bagnaia close that gap, as it has Espargaro and Bastianini, however, the Gresini rider is in as good a form as Bagnaia, so any mistakes from the top three could be punished in a big way.
Asked how he felt about Bastianini as a contender, Quartararo said: “Okay, like a rider he is super, super strong. As a rival, right now it’s five races to the end and he’s less of a contender compared to us.
“I think he is 48 points [behind], but then if some of us make a mistake then he will not be so far. I don’t think he is more of a contender because he made an amazing race in Aragon. I see him as a rival but of course, a little bit more far than Aleix and Pecco.”
Espargaro had similar thoughts during the pre-event press conference in Motegi, saying: “He has a really high speed, he showed that in Misano and Aragon. Really high speed with a really strong bike and anything can happen in this championship.
“The thing is, it’s not going to be easy for Ducati in the championship to understand which is the best situation and he is still a title contender in the points, but Pecco [Bagnaia] more than him.
“We will see how they handle this but he is very, very fast. 48 points to win the title in five races is going to be difficult for him.”
Chance of becoming MotoGP champion ‘really small’ – Bastianini
With Ducati holding a big advantage over its rivals in qualifying trim, more situations like Aragon of Misano where Quartararo was stuck further down the order could take place.
And if other Ducati riders can put themselves between the likes of Bastianini and both Quartararo and Espargaro, then the soon-to-be factory Ducati rider could become a serious threat before the final round in Valencia.
After calling his 48 point deficit ‘too much’ following Aragon, Bastianini has relaxed that thinking somewhat, although he’s still convinced his chances of becoming MotoGP champion are very slim: “I think my chance is really, really small but I haven’t lost the championship for the moment.
“We will see what happens in the future and it is important to do races in like Aragon and Misano. I try to do my best in every weekend and end the championship in a good position.”