Marini: Ducati’s first big problem? “Never happened to me before”

After looking like a contender for victory due to his performances in pre-season testing, Luca Marini instead endured ‘a nightmare’ opening round to the 2023 MotoGP season as he crashed out of both races.
Luca Marini, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023
Luca Marini, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023

Marini’s first moment of disaster came during the Sprint race as he lost the front-end of his Ducati at turn five, before collecting Enea Bastianini who was one his outside.

The incident led to Bastianini suffering a broken shoulder blade, while Marini, who again started inside the top ten for the Grand Prix, then crashed for a second time.

After failing to make any progress ahead, Marini lost eighth place to Fabio Quartararo moments before suffering his second fall.

Lost for words after losing the front in a way that’s ‘never happened with Ducati before’, a disappointed Marini added: "A nightmare. I have no words about this. The crash today was unexpected.

"I was really slow, in my position and not fighting to gain or lose anything. I was just trying to finish the race but I lost the front in a really strange way, which has never happened to me with a Ducati in MotoGP. 

"The feeling of the bike was completely different to Friday, and to the test. I also spoke to my team, my crew chief, we changed the frame. Yesterday I raced with the same bike. I crashed without any idea why. 

"I checked the data - I was leaning one more degree. But with our bike you feel the front tyre very well. In the race today, I had a bad feeling in the front. I never stopped the bike in braking. 

"Every time, I used rear braking. I was slow. It was impossible to use the strong points of the test on Friday, where I was strong in the entry. Today, the entry to the corner was a nightmare. Maybe this can be the key."

Marini’s main race problems stemp from damage to bike during MotoGP P3?

Luca Marini , Portuguese MotoGP. 25 April
Luca Marini , Portuguese MotoGP. 25 April

Following his crash in the Sprint race without knowing why, Marini then felt as though he ran into problems during the ten-minutes warm-up session on Sunday.

But unable to test out both bikes after feeling as though he suffered from overheating with the rear tyre, Marini was left without the proper preparation heading into the main GP. 

However, this was not the main issue as Marini believes his crash in FP3 damaged the bike without he, or the team fully knowing. 

"In the warm-up we tried the bike to check it was fine, but I heated the tyre in the rear," said the Mooney VR46 Ducati rider. "I was slow but thought it was the tyre so I said: ‘The bike is fine’. Maybe this is my fault.

"But in 10 minutes you don’t have time to try two bikes. We have another GP soon which is good for me because I want to be back on the bike to feel good feelings. I didn’t enjoy a single lap today. 

"Everything started on Saturday morning on the out-lap where I made a big mistake, it was very stupid. I crashed, maybe I caused damage to the bike, but we didn’t know. 

"In the sprint race I made two laps so I didn’t feel anything on the bike. Today, clearly something was wrong because I was very slow."

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