Bagnaia: “Breathing space, but cannot relax”

Francesco Bagnaia’s 21-point MotoGP title lead over Jorge Martin gives him “a bit more breathing space” but is “not enough to relax” heading into this weekend’s Valencia showdown.
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 17 November
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 17 November

Just 7 points ahead following the Lusail Sprint, Bagnaia pulled almost out of Martin’s reach when a runner-up finish to Fabio di Giannantonio in the grand prix was combined with tenth after tyre woes for Martin.

The new Sprint format means Bagnaia will now have two chances to claim the 2023 world championship in Valencia: The first will be on Saturday, if he can push his advantage up to at least 25 points in the Sprint. If not, it will go down to Sunday’s finale.

"After the Qatar GP, we arrive in Valencia with a 21-point lead over Jorge. It definitely gives us a bit more breathing space but is still not enough to relax completely,” Bagnaia said.

“Valencia is a track where we have been fast in the past and where we have the potential to do well. Our approach to the weekend will not change compared to the other races.

“The goal will always be the same: to work well from the first session on Friday and try to fight for the win in the race. I am calm and looking forward to getting on track for this season's last act.”

With Martin a threat for his factory seat if he wins the title, Bagnaia’s team-mate Enea Bastianini will no doubt be willing to assist the reigning champion if needed.

"We have reached the last race of the season. It's been a really complicated year for us, and I'd like to close it out in the best possible way," said Bastianini, who was twice sidelined by injuries this season before a shock victory in Sepang.

“Last weekend in Qatar, we took a long time to find our speed… Then, on Sunday, in the second half of the race, my feeling changed, and I was able to have a competitive pace.

“The team is working these days to understand why, and in Valencia, we'll try to be fast already from Friday's free practice.”

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