Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) took a well-deserved runner-up slot in an extraordinary end to the Australian GP at Phillip Island, which saw five riders contesting the victory on the final lap. The win went to Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), his first in MotoGP in 120 races, ahead of Bagnaia and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing), while Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), who led for 26 of the 27 laps, found himself caught and overhauled by the chasing group as tyre choice proved to be decisive. Bagnaia now has a 27-point lead over Martin, with tomorrow’s Sprint race still to come.
After a difficult Friday, Bagnaia’s day started off well, with the championship leader taking the top slot in Q1 and qualifying for Q2, where he set third quickest time, earning himself a front-row start for the race.
As Martin pulled out a three-second lead at the front, Bagnaia found himself fifth in the chasing group behind Binder (KTM), Di Giannantonio, and Zarco. In the final stages, these four riders were catching Martin, and as they started the final lap, the gap between them was minimal. Zarco dived into the lead at turn 7 to take his maiden MotoGP win and Bagnaia immediately followed him through to grab second place.
Teammate Enea Bastianini, starting twelfth on the grid after a good qualifying session, found it hard to stay with the leading group in the early stages and dropped to fourteenth by mid-race. In the second half, the rider from Rimini recovered to finish tenth.
Francesco Bagnaia (#1 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 2nd
“I’m very happy, it was another difficult weekend but every time we rise, and once again we finished at the front. Johann did an amazing job with the rear tyre, and I was controlling all the laps. I was just missing a bit of traction in the last lap but I’m happy. Martin was on the soft tyre, and I had to think hard at the start, because I knew he would go away. The pace was strong throughout the race, but I kept controlling the rear tyre until the end, and I was right because in a moment I went from fifth to second. It was a race in which I had to be calm because I knew the soft tyre wouldn’t last and finally everything was perfect. Points are always fundamental, now we have 27 on Martin, things can change very quickly so we must be very careful and understand perfectly what is going on. There are four and a half races left so it will be important to remain constant every time.”
Enea Bastianini (#23 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 10th
“I can’t be happy, that’s for sure. Today it went worse, in the sense there was more grip on the track than yesterday, and I struggled more. I couldn’t get the bike to slide the rear, so it was pushing a lot at the front and moving around, consuming the front left of the tyre. The strange thing is that I felt better in the last ten laps than in the first. It was hard to ride like this because I couldn’t turn. Evidently, we do well when there is less grip, so we’ll look carefully at the data to understand why I went better in the last ten laps compared to the first laps when the tyre should make the difference. I went into this race with much higher expectations, and I had to scale them back, but I know what I can do on the bike, we just have to try to get in tune to work better.”
On Sunday, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders will be out on track for ten minutes of warm-up at 09.00 in Australia (00.00 CEST), while the Sprint race, to be held over 13 laps, will start at 13.00 local time (04.00 CEST).
- From Ducati Media House