Bagnaia warns: “Next circuits I’m very strong”, but ponders change of strategy

With the MotoGP title momentum already suddenly swinging back in Francesco Bagnaia’s favour, the Italian warns he expects to be very strong at the upcoming rounds.
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP, Australian MotoGP, 21 October
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP, Australian MotoGP, 21 October

But Bagnaia concedes he might also need to change his weekend strategy.

The reigning champion had seen a 66-point advantage over Jorge Martin disappear by the Indonesian Sprint, as the Pramac rider hammered home six wins and a second place from seven races.

Although a shock fall from the lead of the Mandalika Grand Prix halted Martin’s charge, he was back on top of the timesheets during practice and qualifying in Phillip Island.

But Martin’s soft tyre gamble backfired on the final lap of Saturday’s Australian MotoGP when he was swamped by the chasing pack and dropped from first to fifth.

Second for Bagnaia thus boosted his title lead to 27 points heading into Buriram this weekend, which will be followed by Sepang, Lusail and the Valencia finale.

While Martin’s mishaps have played into Bagnaia’s hands in the last two races, the Italian indicated he expects to have the pace to take on the young Spaniard in Buriram and Sepang.

“The next two races I'm looking forward to, in Thailand and then in Malaysia, because they are circuits where I’m very, very strong,” Bagnaia said.

“And all the circuits where last year I was strong, this year I'm very strong…”

However, Bagnaia, who has missed direct Qualifying 2 access for the past two events, revealed he is considering a change of weekend strategy.

While focusing heavily on race set-up has paid off by the grand prix races, it leaves him less prepared for time attacks, putting him at risk of missing out on Qualifying 2 (as happened in Mandalika, where he started 13th).

“One thing that I don't know if it's good to continue, but my strategy during the session is quite different compared to all the others,” Bagnaia explained.

“It helps me to be very prepared every time for the race. But not prepared to be in the first position when it counts [for the time attack].

“Because this weekend, for example, when we put the soft tyre I wasn't ready for this amount of grip.

"The difference between medium and soft on the left side of the tyre was huge and I was in trouble with it.

“We finished the work on Saturday morning, luckily [qualifying in 3rd]. And we were prepared for the race.

"But maybe we have to start thinking in another way. And be more prepared also for the time attack.”

Free practice at Buriram, where Bagnaia qualified a close third in the dry and finished third in the wet, starts on Friday.

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