Long lap costs Enea Bastianini Le Mans MotoGP victory chance?

Long lap penalty costs Enea Bastianini more time than the 2.2s deficit to Jorge Martin at the end of the French MotoGP.

Enea Bastianini, Aleix Espargaro, 2024 French MotoGP
Enea Bastianini, Aleix Espargaro, 2024 French MotoGP

Enea Bastianini lost 2.619s, compared to his previous lap, when he served a long lap penalty during Sunday’s French MotoGP.

But he went on to finish only 2.206s behind race winner Jorge Martin, in fourth place, at the finish.

That’s not to say he would have repeated his 2022 Le Mans victory, but Bastianini would surely have been in the podium fight with Martin, Marc Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia.

The costly penalty occurred when Bastianini, who qualified just tenth on the grid, straight-lined the Turn 9 chicane during a close pass on Aleix Espargaro, over fifth place, on lap 12 of 27.

The Italian acknowledged he had cut the corner but when he looked around for Espargaro, to presumably hand the position back, the Aprilia rider had been forced down an escape road by the move.

Crucially, Bastianini then got back on the gas and was duly penalised by the FIM Stewards for failing to be “at least 1 second slower in that sector” than his average time.

“Obviously I cannot be fully happy with today as I could have done a lot more, so I’m a little disappointed,” Bastianini said. “We had the speed this weekend, but something didn’t go our way and surely that long-lap penalty did penalise us a lot.

“It all happened because I was in a rush to pass Aleix as I saw the others at the front were starting to push a bit harder. I didn’t make any calculation, I simply saw the chance and tried to take it.

“Problem is, as it happened on other occasions, I struggle to get the bike stopped when upright, so I ended up wide.

“I was ready to give the position back, but then I saw him off track and that made it impossible. In any case, I wasn’t expecting a long-lap penalty.”

The long lap cost Bastianini three places but he set the fastest lap of the race as he worked his way forward again, culminating in a pass on Maverick Vinales for fourth on the penultimate lap.

Bastianini – facing intense pressure to keep his factory Ducati seat from title leader Jorge Martin and Marc Marquez - is now equal with Marquez for third in the world championship, just two points behind team-mate and reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia.

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