‘Impossible to overtake, now a jungle’ - Bagnaia not drawn into complaints

Francesco Bagnaia believes complaints made by other riders about the Sprint MotoGP race being too aggressive shouldn’t be made and that you ‘have to be prepared’.
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023

Although he was not fighting in the middle of the pack where several last-ditch overtakes seemed to be made very early on in the first-ever MotoGP Sprint race, Bagnaia was still embroiled in a battle of his own.

Fighting the likes of Jorge Martin, Marc Marquez and Jack Miller, Bagnaia had to be aggressive and calculated to the right degree, which some riders such as Luca Marini and Joan Mir were not.

Marini took out Bastianini, causing an injury to the factory rider, while Mir hit Fabio Quartararo and crashed out on his Honda debut as a result.

And while opinions were split about the Sprint races being good for MotoGP, Bagnaia was not in the mood to hear complaints after winning the first race of his title defence. 

Bagnaia said: "Last year it was impossible to overtake because of the aerodynamics for many reasons. Now it is a jungle with the same aerodynamics. I was not behind so I don’t know what happened. 

"For sure, to have an overtake now you have to take some risk and you have to be aggressive but it’s like this. You have to be prepared. 

"Of course, on Saturday you have to approach it in a smooth way. It’s true that if you win you get 12 points but it’s not the 25 of the Sunday. 

"I think you can manage to just be constant and be in the front. To do an overtake you have to be aggressive but it’s like this."

Like Bagnaia, Marquez also showed an aggressive side to come back from fifth and claim a podium.

Marquez, who stated that the Sprint race was an enjoyable experience during the post-race press conference, also agreed with Bagnaia about the level of risk you need to take being the current norm in MotoGP, whether that’s in the Sprint race or another session.

Marquez said: "The way to push; today I was a bit calm and then was aggressive in the early part, but then calm [again]. The position was better than I expected and the target was top five today. I was in. 

"Then, step–by-step I started to lose and then I took a risk again. It was more or less the same risk as a normal race."

Bagnaia sends warning to MotoGP rivals

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023

Although it took a mistake from Martin on the final lap for Bagnaia to come through and win, the Italian said he was pushing more during his Sprint race simulation in testing, rather than today’s official race.

Yet, he came away victorious which was another clear indication that Bagnaia is the rider to beat in 2023.

"In my situation, I was pushing more in the test simulation than in the race today," claimed the world champion. "It was important to adapt and understand it. Also, the level of grip was less so it was important to understand everything. 

"Moto2 riders were not riding in the test so the condition was quite different to this morning. It’s a race so you feel more nervous because it was the first one but it’s different competing with or without taking points. So it changed."

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