until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


'Just smarter than me' - What decided MotoGP's latest title rival duel

by Simon Patterson, Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Reigning MotoGP world champion Pecco Bagnaia says that he was beaten in the sprint race at Saturday’s German Grand Prix by a "just smarter" Jorge Martin, after the championship leader picked the right moment early on to strike and left a frustrated Bagnaia completely unable to respond.

It was Bagnaia who made the better start of the pair and broke through into the lead despite having launched from the second row - aided by Martin having to hammer the brakes to disengage his ride height device and overshooting Turn 1.

It left Martin to chase Bagnaia down - something that he was able to do soon enough, picking the right time to make his move and to push on in the race, according to Bagnaia.

Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin, MotoGP

“Jorge today was just smarter than me,” he conceded afterwards. “Today I didn’t choose the best strategy, I tried to manage too much the rear tyre, and maybe it was too much. Jorge understood it, and as soon as he was close to me he overtook me using more the rear tyre.

“I thought that 15 laps is quite long, and that having more tyre in the last part of the race would be better, but it was useless. Completely. I think the strategy of today was good, but maybe for [the longer race] tomorrow instead!”

For his part, Martin explained that Bagnaia was correct in assessing that the Spaniard had opted for a different approach.

“I saw he was maybe saving the tyre, and I didn't save,” Martin admitted.

Jorge Martin, Miguel Oliveira and Pecco Bagnaia, MotoGP

"If I had been in front, I would do the same as him, 100 percent. But being behind I had to make that move.

“For sure afterwards I paid [for it] a little bit because I felt I was with really low grip from the rear. But I'm happy that I was able to regain those positions because at the beginning of the race I was a bit surprised, being in third, and my strategy was completely different.”

That gain in part came because Bagnaia was facing what has become the most persistent complaint in MotoGP of late: issues with his front tyre pressure that spiked as soon as he found himself in the hot air behind Martin and Miguel Oliveira, who Bagnaia felt also made a big difference to the outcome.

Pecco Bagnaia, Ducati, MotoGP

“Being behind someone at the start,” Bagnaia explained, “the front tyre pressure was high, so I was struggling, and just even braking hard without any attempt at overtaking I was close to crashing. Every time I was close behind Miguel.

“We have a target that every time we start every race in the same way [in terms of front tyre pressure], but today maybe it was a bit too much, especially with the temperature of the asphalt. For tomorrow, it’ll be again very cold so it’s not easy for the engineer to understand the target.

“The last part of the race I was very strong, faster than the guys at the front, but with no front it was very difficult to have any kind of an attempt."

It was also something that effectively forced Martin's hand, with his reference to a "completely different strategy" describing the fact that his starting tyre pressure was set with the implication that he'd lead the whole race from pole - which then meant he absolutely couldn't afford to drop behind anyone.

One more lap in tow, Martin said, would've likely meant defeat.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Ducati, MotoGP

Even with a return to Friday’s cooler temperatures forecast for Sunday’s main race, the two rivals aren’t expecting too much of a change in priorities as both of them vie to be the race leader early on at one of the series’ tightest and toughest-to-overtake-on circuits.

“It's not a big secret,” said Martin. “It's important to be first at the beginning. As Pecco wants also, I want also. I was - this track you cannot push, never you can push more than 50 percent. You have to be always saving-saving-saving.

“The times were not bad, but I thought it was going to be much-much faster. But I think we are all struggling a lot with tyre consumption.

“I wasn't pushing 100 percent. For sure, if there was someone in front, I had something more. I think I have everything settled and ready for whatever comes tomorrow.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks