MotoGP Mandalika: Strange race for Bagnaia – ‘I have a lot of questions’

03/21/2022 |

Picture: GeeBee Images

Pecco Bagnaia had a second race to forget as his 2022 MotoGP Championship challenge faltered in the wet conditions of the IndonesianGP.

Having crashed out of Qatar’s season opener, the Ducati Lenovo rider was back to his confident best as the action returned to Lombok, the site of February’s preseason test. Lining up on the second row after qualifying sixth, Bagnaia had previous race winner Enea Bastianini alongside and teammate Jack Miller one row behind.

With rain hitting the Mandalika Circuit half an hour before the race was scheduled to start, a sodden, recently resurfaced track welcomed the shortened 20-lap battle 75 minutes later than planned. Bagnaia’s previous wet weather prowess on the Desmosedici should have held him in good stead, but it was not be.

“I have a lot of questions about my race,” the Italian said on Sunday night after crossing the finish line in 15th place. “I have to understand a lot of things on what today didn’t work. Because it’s strange that in the test in Malaysia, I was with a really great feeling the wet. In the test here, in the first session I was very strong in the wet and my feeling was incredible like always.

“Today, I was struggling a lot from the start. Already in the first braking I was feeling strange. On the first braking on the race I lose a lot of positions, then when I was trying to push a bit more I was losing the front always.

“I had the luck to don’t crash in the finish of the straight because I was quite fast and was a bit scary.

“Looking also at the tyres, have not worked, so maybe I was not pushing like I had to do but looks strange. I’m quite disappointed and I’m sure not happy about this weekend. This morning in the warm-up I was very competitive. With used tires I was 11th on the warmup but my pace was very, very competitive. So it’s a difficult situation, difficult moment.

“For a second weekend in a row, we took just one point in two weekends. Our potential is higher than this. A lot higher than this.

“For me, today the problem wasn’t my bike, sincerely, I think. Because like always on wet, our bike is incredible and today for me was not like this. I was struggling too much with one of the strong points of our bike in wet, that is the front. So it’s a strange feeling.

“I’m not saying that was a problem of the tyre, I’m just saying that was not working like I want,” he elaborated. “My feeling with it was very strange. Normally I feel a lot the limit with the front. Today was not the situation because when I locked the front I was not doing a very strong brake. Jack was doing more strong brakes than me and I was just understanding how to manage the situation because I was going slow but I was on the limit with the front because I wasn’t understanding what was happening. When you feel like this, it is very difficult to push. The moment I lose the front, because in the TV I think you have just seen one lock of the front but wasn’t just only one, also in the inside of the corner, I was losing it a lot of times and is strange I think. ”

2021 closed with Fabio Quartararo World Champion but Bagnaia the building threat. Across winter testing he was consistently marked as the man to watch and the bookies favorite for this year’s title. Qatar saw him struggle across the weekend and after two races the Ducati man has one point to his name. The 25-year-old, however, is hoping to turn it around as the action moves to the Americas and then on to Europe.

“We have to wait, it’s just the second race,” Bagnaia said. “We are understanding things and this morning my feeling was incredible with the bike so we were ready to fight for the win. Let’s see in the future, in the next races but I would like to reset my mindset and start again thinking positive and don’t think to be unlucky always.

“After the test, without thinking, I was losing a bit of feeling maybe with the bike, and now I feel great again after this weekend of just focusing on me, on my bike. I was ready again to fight for the win with Fabio because my feeling was incredible, but the result is totally opposite so it’s difficult situation. Is difficult to think about the race but we have to think positive. We have to think positive for the next races and start to be competitive like I was this morning, from the start of the Friday.”