How Bagnaia “lost another great opportunity” in Barcelona MotoGP sprint crash

The reigning world champion enjoyed an eventful early part of the 12-lap sprint as he battled back from being shuffled down to fourth.

When KTM’s Brad Binder crashed out of the lead on lap seven, Bagnaia was released into first place and looked on course to score a first sprint win since the 2023 Austrian GP weekend.

But at Turn 5 on the final lap, he crashed and registered a third sprint DNF of the season.

Bagnaia called the crash “curious” as he entered into Turn 5 slower than he had previously, suggesting that he was not overriding at that point.

“It looks like entering slower [into a corner], with the same braking [as before] can make you crash,” he said.

“Normally, in normal conditions it can’t happen. But here, where the grip level is a disaster, it can happen.

«So, we need to analyse it, understand it, be more careful in this kind of situation for tomorrow because the race is longer, hotter, and will be important to finish because it’s already three weeks in a row that we are really strong for the sprint race but we are not finishing for problems or crashing.

“So, we lost another great opportunity. I was fastest, I was leading, I was cruising till the chequered flag, but it wasn’t enough.”

He added: “I was 100% focused. I know how to win, and it was my kind of win because I was controlling everything perfectly.

“I had more tyre, I had more pace, so I was doing everything perfect and it’s very curious when you look at my data when you see the moment of the crash it’s really strange to see a crash in that kind of situation.

“But it was really strange today that every rider that was leading crashed, so this is strange and we have to understand for tomorrow.”

The damage being done to Bagnaia’s 2024 title defence by Saturday malaise 

In a sprint race in which championship leader Jorge Martin struggled for pace – with the Pramac Ducati rider explaining that he overheated his rear tyre – Bagnaia was on course to cut down his 38-point deficit in the standings.

Instead, Bagnaia has dropped 44 points adrift in the championship while Martin has lost just one point to new second-placed standings occupant Marc Marquez.

Something of a sprint specialist in the first half of 2023, winning four times and scoring five other Saturday podiums, Bagnaia hasn’t fared well in 2024. In fact, not since last year’s Malaysian GP has Bagnaia had a sprint podium.

In Qatar he could do no more than fourth and the same again in Portugal, after a mistake while comfortably leading saw him throw away another podium.

A difficult Americas GP round saw him come away with just two points from the sprint there, while a collision in the Spanish GP sprint meant he scored nothing.

At Le Mans, an issue with his second bike (which he was forced to race with after crashing his number one GP24 in qualifying) forced him to retire.

By contrast, Martin has won three sprints, finished third in two more and salvaged fourth from a tough day in Barcelona. Marquez has had four sprint second-place finishes from six rounds on the 2023-spec Ducati run by Gresini Racing.

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