Bagnaia’s Portimao MotoGP sprint-losing ‘f**k-up’ explained


MotoGP champion Pecco Bagnaia’s surprise defeat in the Portuguese Grand Prix sprint was the result of a fascinating mental lapse – with the Italian forthcoming about the details of his error.

Bagnaia looked a shoo-in for his first sprint win since August of 2023 as he managed the gap to Maverick Vinales and the rest of the chasing pack coming onto the ninth lap of 12.

But he lost rear contact under braking into the difficult downhill first corner and thus couldn’t get the bike stopped anywhere near in time, forced to go exploring the Turn 1 run-off before he returned to the track already in fourth place.

The rest of his race was subdued as he ran mediocre laps while fighting off Jack Miller and Enea Bastianini, which initially suggested a potential underlying issue – but which Bagnaia eventually explained was just him focusing on bringing the bike home without any further mishaps.

“I f***ed up,” he acknowledged bluntly.

“I didn’t consider the fact that the fuel was consuming. And the first corner is a bit strange, because the downhill makes the rear go higher and higher.

“And after four-five laps I started to feel it, that the rear was always a bit higher [thanks to less fuel weight], and I was braking the same.

“With this year’s bike I feel it a bit more and much more in this track. I’m feeling that the rear is a bit more nervous, always.

“It was something I had to consider, but I didn’t. So… for sure it’s another thing that I add to my mind.”

It was a gutting outcome for Bagnaia – and a mistake he described as “huge” – though he could at least take solace in the fact it had looked like his best sprint performance in a long while, “perfect” until the ninth lap.

“It would’ve been better to win, finally. Because it’s been a long time that I hadn’t felt like this in a sprint race.

“And these kinds of mistakes are for sure not helping. But we have to take the positives and see that we were able again to fight in a sprint race with a soft rear tyre that wasn’t [giving me] too much my best feeling.”

Why didn’t Bagnaia’s rivals capitalise?

Neither of Bagnaia’s frontrunning peers on 2024-spec Ducatis were able to capitalise on his blunder.

Jorge Martin, whose streak of nine consecutive top-two finishes in sprints snapped with a third-place finish, was left to rue a sudden recurrence of an issue that he’s battled a lot so far this season – a rear vibration on corner entry.

“I didn’t have it yesterday, I didn’t have it this morning – but this evening again, a lot. For sure it’s because we were pushing too much into the rear tyre.”

And every lap it was worse, and I couldn’t make the move on Maverick.

“I think my position was really conditioned by not making that move – if not, I think I was a bit stronger to pull away.

“We need to solve it, because if not we will have this problem for all the season.

“Enea Bastianini, who had lined up on pole, didn’t have that problem – but his bid for the sprint win was effectively over when he went into the race with a disengaged front ride height device.

This, seemingly, was a result of him having braked too hard getting into his grid slot.

“It’s too strange to start without the device – and also the bike will wheelie a lot, and also because the electronics is [set up for having it engaged].

“It meant he had to get off the throttle off the line, and he was down to fifth at the end of the opening lap (though at that point still ahead of Martin, who did ultimately prove more competitive).”



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