Bagnaia opens up about the challenges he faced at COTA Sprint.

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“We’ll switch out only the rear tire, and I believe everything will be fine.”

MotoGP reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia built on his ‘best Friday of the season’ with a second-place finish in Saturday’s practice at COTA, followed by a fourth-place result in qualifying.

However, the drama unfolded even before the afternoon Sprint began when crew chief Cristian Gabarrini was spotted sprinting to the grid with a new front fender. It was swiftly installed, and fortunately, didn’t seem to pose any issues.

Yet, Bagnaia’s race started to unravel right from the moment the red lights went out. The front wheel of his Desmosedici leaped into the air, the rear spinning, which saw him slip back to tenth place after the initial turns.

Struggling to make an impact thereafter, Bagnaia only managed to pass Franco Morbidelli on lap 7 of 10, and then Raul Fernandez for eighth place on the final lap. Upon stepping off the factory GP24 in the pit lane, Bagnaia took a long look at his rear tire.

Like his competitors, Bagnaia opted for the medium front and soft rear tire combination for the Sprint.

However, during the race, Bagnaia couldn’t replicate the pace he had shown with those tires in practice. Teammate Enea Bastianini, finishing sixth, also spoke of similar rear grip issues.


“At the start, the rear started to spin, then I had a wheelie, so I had to engage the clutch again and found myself in seventh position. Then in corner 2, I had to brake hard because Jack had some movements, and three more riders overtook me,” Bagnaia explained.

“After that, my feeling wasn’t the same as in the morning. The rear grip was significantly reduced. We’ll need to review the data to understand why.”

However, he made it clear that a new tire should resolve his troubles.

“Tomorrow we won’t make any changes to the setup because my feeling was too compromised to attribute the problem to the setup. So we’ll just change the rear tire, and I believe everything will be alright.

“Our goal and pace before the race were to contend for the podium. The goal remains the same for tomorrow.”

Bagnaia’s tough Sprint performance has now put him 39 points adrift of championship leader Jorge Martin. Martin, who started the race two places behind Bagnaia on the grid, managed to secure a podium finish alongside Maverick Vinales and Marc Marquez.

Stay tuned with We4GP for more news.

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