The reigning champion was able to recover some of his braking prowess at the following Motegi round, although not enough to prevent a double victory for title rival Jorge Martin.

With just three points now separating factory star Bagnaia and Pramac’s Martin, MotoGP effectively has a six-round title shootout.

As such, the difference between Bagnaia and Marin, and therefore the world championship outcome, could again come down to braking.

Enea Bastianini, Bagnaia’s now injured team-mate, told that braking is where all eight Ducati riders are noticeably different.

“Pecco style is really close with mine in corner entry, but in the last part of the braking, we are different,” said Bastianini.

“But also compared to the other Ducati riders, it’s again completely different.

“Especially Jorge Martin or Johann Zarco. For me, it's impossible to compare with their data!”

So every Ducati rider is different in the last part of braking?

“Exactly,” Bastianini confirmed.

Those words were backed up by third in the standings Marco Bezzecchi, who recently cited braking as the key ingredient to his 2023 success:

“I’ve been studying Pecco, Jorge and all the Ducati riders since the first time I came to MotoGP. I still need to do more steps to be constantly strong in braking because now I am strong in some tracks, but struggle at others.”

Bastianini: Rear of the bike felt unstable

Bastianini’s season has been bookended by injuries, fracturing his shoulder when taken down by Luca Marini at the Portimao season opener, then his ankle and hand when he triggered a first-turn pile-up in Catalunya.

In between, the Italian took a best finish of eighth. A far cry from his four victories on a year-old bike at Gresini Ducati last season.

“Last year I was in the comfort zone because the ’21 bike had made a lot of kilometres. And this year I made other [development] work for the first time during the winter tests,” Bastianini said.

“The ‘23 bike is so nice, but I have to understand the strongest point.”

Interestingly, when quizzed on why he hasn’t felt as comfortable on the GP23, Bastianini pinpointed the kind of rear-end braking instability that recently plagued Bagnaia.

“This bike is more reactive in the corners. And I lose sometimes because [it is] moving a lot, especially on the rear, and when I have to brake, the bike is so unstable,” Bastianini explained.

“This is the big change from the ’21 [at Gresini last year]. But after the Austrian race, we made a good step because we understood something on that bike.

“When the bike is so aggressive it's difficult to be fast… If the bike is stable, it’s better, because 300 horsepower is a lot!”

As MotoGP braking zones become ever more hotly contested, so does the amount of front locking, as riders push the limits of control.

“From the TV it's difficult to see the front locking but the team knows when they see the data in the box: ‘Look how many front locks!’

“But when we ride, we know!” Bastianini smiled.