This time last week in Indonesia, Bagnaia lost the title lead to Martin after the Pramac rider won the sprint and moved seven points clear.
But a crash for Martin in Sunday’s main race and a win for Bagnaia put the reigning champion 18 clear coming to Australia.
Bagnaia qualified third having come through Q1 at Phillip Island on Saturday and finished the grand prix second, after long-time leader Martin dropped to fifth as his soft tyre gamble backfired.
The gap between the pair now stands at 27 points heading into Sunday’s rescheduled sprint contest, weather conditions permitting, but Bagnaia is wary of getting too confident despite the latest title race swing.
“Absolutely, but feet on the ground,” he said when asked if this was an important day in his title defence.
“We know how things can change. I was 66 points gap after Barcelona [sprint] and we lost the leadership in a moment.
“So, it’s very easy to start having problems.
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
“It’s very important to do weekends like this one, like Mandalika, being fast when you are struggling and always trying to be at the top.”
Bagnaia believes his second consecutive Q1 appearance was a result of him focusing on working with the medium rear tyre in practice on Friday, and was convinced he would be able to catch Martin in Saturday’s grand prix when he saw his gap stop growing.
“I think we missed Q2 just because we did more laps on the medium, trying more laps on the medium,” he added.
“This year the grip level was less than last year and the performance was faster.
“So, we were faster with less grip. I was sure the medium was already struggling to do all the race, but this morning [in final practice] we managed to do a good job.
“It was very important to start from the front row, and we did it. In the race, in one moment I was a bit worried when I also saw Binder going away.
“But when I saw Jorge was stuck with the same gap, I said ‘ok, we will catch him’. I was expecting to catch him a bit before but on the last lap we did it and it was perfect.”