Poncharal blasts Bagnaia for factory, satellite ‘nonsense’

Herve Poncharal was ‘shocked’ by reigning MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia’s comments that he would like "a bigger gap between the factory and satellite bikes".
Francesco Bagnaia, Sprint Race, French MotoGP, 13 May
Francesco Bagnaia, Sprint Race, French MotoGP, 13 May

Bagnaia made the surprising claim when speaking to Italian media after Sunday’s French MotoGP race.

The Ducati star, who crashed out after tangling with (fellow factory rider) Maverick Vinales over third place, was asked generally about how to reduce the number of early race incidents when he said (translation by MotoGP.com):

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“...A rider behind you, that doesn’t have the potential, is looking to pass six riders in one lap. And it doesn’t work like this. Because we are all on the limit, looking for the maximum goal.

“And if I’m braking on the limit, especially in the first part of the race, it’s wrong to try and brake beyond this limit.

“If you look, the incidents are mainly in the first part of the races, because there is a lot of agitation. We should think about trying to improve this situation, because it’s not safe like this.

“One thing I think is that, from the first bike to the last, everyone can win. There is no longer a 6 or 7 tenths gap between the factory and satellite bikes.

“That was useful, honestly, because the ‘Fantastic 4’ [Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa] were born because they were the strongest, but they also had factory bikes.

“Meanwhile the others were further behind, because they didn’t have the potential, but they also didn’t have the same technical level.

“Now the level is extreme. With all the aerodynamics everything is on the limit. Every rider has a chance of winning. For example, Augusto Fernandez was fourth today, he’s a world champion but he’s also a rookie.

“I mean, the pace wasn’t that fast, apart from Bezzecchi. And he just did the pace we all expected. The others were slow and that keeps the group together.

“So in my opinion I’d like a bigger gap between the factory and satellite bikes. Or at least to find a solution to avoid these kind of incidents.”



Poncharal ‘shocked’ by ‘unsportsmanlike’ comments

Speaking to Paddock-GP.com, Fernandez’s Tech3 GASGAS team principal Herve Poncharal, who is also president of teams’ association IRTA, delivered this response:

“What makes me surprised is that he benefited from this system, he was able to have high-performance motorcycles in an independent structure [at Pramac Ducati] and now I read that it would be good if we castrate the motorcycles of the private teams by 6 or 7 tenths per lap in order for the rich and powerful [teams] to have fun.

“He even said that when the Fantastic 4 - which were Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa - had factory bikes that outperformed the independent team bikes, it was a great situation!

"[This goes against all the] work we have done, in order to be able to have a decent grid. We, as the independent teams, with Dorna, the FIM and the MSMA, managed to convince the manufacturers that they had to equip [satellite teams] with high-performance machines.

“The first four positions at the Grand Prix of France were Independent teams, and it is fabulous to see that the race for the title is wide open. Bezzecchi, a young rider on a Ducati from a private team, is only one point behind Bagnaia, on the official motorcycle from the same factory.

“It's great for everyone, it's great for the sport and it allows us, the independent teams, to convince our sponsors to join us. Because we can tell them that we are not only there to fill the grid, but there to perform! You can win races and eventually aim for the title.

“When [Bagnaia] arrived in MotoGP in an independent team, he was happy to be treated with equipment that performed well and to be treated like a professional rider.

“I thought that [as a] reigning world champion, you were told and taught that you had to turn your tongue seven times in your mouth before saying something stupid. And there, he said such huge nonsense! It shocked me a lot personally because it is unsportsmanlike.

“One of the basic values ​​of sport is respect and fairness. And that is somehow a lack of respect to, once again, not castrate but penalise. In addition, he gave amounts of the penalty [we should face], '6 or 7 tenths': In his great leniency, he did not say 1 second!

“And what is sport in these cases? Because what we want to see are motorcycles fighting, but also men fighting! It is a lack of respect also of his colleagues at VR46! It would be nice if he talked to Bezzecchi about it… ”

An Independent rider has yet to win a title in the MotoGP era but Bezzecchi is currently among four satellite riders in the early top six of the world championship standings.

VR46, which uses year-old Ducati machinery, and Pramac Ducati are also holding first and second in the teams' world championship.

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