until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


The mystery of Bagnaia's miserable Le Mans sprint

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP champion Pecco Bagnaia wasn’t entirely sure what caused his French Grand Prix sprint race to go so disastrously wrong for him in the hours immediately afterwards.

But he suspected his plunge from a front row start to a lap three retirement was in some way due to having to switch to his second Ducati following a crash in the morning’s qualifying session.

It was obvious within seconds of the lights going out at Le Mans that something wasn’t right for Bagnaia as he dropped through the pack from second at the very beginning of the race and was 14th within a few corners.

Things went from bad to worse after that as the TV cameras caught him lucky to save a huge moment that sent him deep into the gravel - and straight to the pits afterwards on a machine that he says was completely unrideable.

“As soon as I started on my sighting lap I felt something strange,” he explained afterwards, “and then on the warm-up lap I went wide in corner seven in a strange way.

"I started the race and had a huge wheelie, and then it was more or less very difficult to do everything.

“I almost lost the front in corner six before going wide in corner seven, on the acceleration.

"My team are already checking everything, but it’s not easy to understand when these kind of things are happening. But my team are so good and they’ll solve everything."

He admitted he had some inkling of what was wrong with his spare bike, but wasn't willing to commit to it in front of the media.

“I can’t say properly, but we will check everything for tomorrow," Bagnaia said.

"I don’t know, but it’s 50/50. We have an idea, but we can’t say for sure.

"It’s not just a feeling of grip, it was a bigger thing, and we have to understand it better.”

Bagnaia didn't just crash out of qualifying but had to run to the side of the track and back again to grab a fire extinguisher to put out flames on his burning Desmosedici as the marshals looked on.

The damage forced him to line up on his second machine instead - and while the factory team’s intention is always to have the two bikes as close as possible, it seems that very much wasn’t the case on Saturday.

“Something was wrong, something was not working in the way that I expected, and that is something that can happen," Bagnaia continued.

"We had to change the bike after the crash of this morning and the other one was maybe too… I had to readapt a bit."

Whatever the problem with the bike, it was severe enough that he decided it wasn't worth continuing in the race just to get to the bottom of it ahead of Sunday's main event.

“I’m not a guy who wants to retire,” he stressed, “and to have information for tomorrow it’s better [to continue], but today it was better to stop.

“The expectation is to fight for the top two positions [on Sunday], because our pace was good enough to.

"We will take the positives for tomorrow and my team is already working to do the same bike as the other one. We know that the potential is very high.”

Bagnaia's retirement means he's now down to third in the championship behind team-mate Enea Bastianini, 29 points adrift of leader and sprint winner Jorge Martin.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks