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Bagnaia explains “lunchbox” moment in Malaysia MotoGP sprint

MotoGP championship leader Francesco Bagnaia says a lunchbox got stuck on his Ducati’s front wing during Saturday’s Malaysian Grand Prix sprint.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia qualified on pole for the first time since the Catalan GP on Saturday at Sepang, setting a new lap record to beat chief title rival Jorge Martin – something he branded “a relief”.

And though he led in the early stages of the sprint, Bagnaia’s pace dropped off and he could do no more than third, which allowed second-placed Martin to narrow the points gap to 11.

Late in the sprint, a piece of debris flicked onto the right front wing on Bagnaia’s Ducati, which eventually detached.

He later revealed it was a lunchbox, but isn’t sure how much it affected his pace.

“[It was] a lunchbox,” Bagnaia said.

“For me it was not a help, absolutely. It was stuck on a wing, and I think I lost it on the last lap, so for sure it was not a help.

“It happened on the same lap I started to struggle. I don’t think it was for that, but we don’t know, we cannot understand it.”

 

Bagnaia says his pace dropped because he struggled with his front tyre pressure getting too high after the first few laps.

“I’m not happy about that, but the thing was similar to the Mugello race, because I was feeling that Alex Marquez was having a really good pace but my one was too,” he said of his race.

“The lap he closed a bit, I just tried to push another lap to try to still be three tenths [in front].

“But on that lap, which I think was lap six, I started to struggle a lot with the front.

“It was very difficult to stop the bike with the front locking, I was having a lot of movement. I think I’m not the only one who had this feeling; I think Enea [Bastianini] also, but more than one rider.

“So, it’s quite strange and I was not expecting it considering also I did many laps with the [medium] front tyre yesterday and today. So, it was quite strange.”

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Gresini’s Alex Marquez proved to have more pace than either Bagnaia or Martin in the sprint, as he romped to victory.

Bagnaia concedes that Marquez is “faster than both of us” heading into Sunday’s grand prix, but the factory Ducati rider believes he’ll be able to fight.

“At the moment, Alex is faster than us both,” Bagnaia said when asked by Autosport if he was worried about Marquez in the grand prix.

“So, let’s see what will happen. He has very constant pace, he’s very good on braking and he’s doing a really good job.

“He’s got nothing to lose, and today he demonstrated he’s very fast. So, let’s see tomorrow.

“But I think we have a good chance because our pace today was not the one we demonstrated [in practice].

“It was something that happened that didn’t help me to understand the situation, but I think my pace could have been like his one. I think he was able to win the same, but I think I can be closer to him.”

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