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Bagnaia fumes over “impossible” COTA MotoGP sprint woes

Reigning MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia says it was “impossible” to match his practice pace in the Americas Grand Prix sprint as rear grip problems left him in eighth.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The factory Ducati rider was amongst the list of favourites to challenge for victory in Saturday’s 10-lap sprint at the Circuit of the Americas after qualifying fourth.

But from the off Bagnaia’s pace was nowhere near the leaders’, as he plummeted to 10th off the line and could only fight back to score two points in eighth – 9.349 seconds behind race winner Maverick Vinales.

He blamed a lack of rear grip on his rear Michelin medium tyre but stopped short of pointing the finger at the French brand for a potentially faulty option.

“Much more difficult compared to this morning in FP2 when three laps more than a sprint race I was doing 2m02.4s on the last lap,” he said.

“And today, 2m02.8 or 9s was impossible. So, we have to understand and tomorrow we have another race and we have to check the data tonight.

“First of all the start, I spin at the start and already everything was f*****.

“Then it was very difficult to push. Every time I was trying to push, the rear was sliding a lot, I was losing the rear everywhere and it was very difficult to perform how I wanted.”

Enea Bastianini, Ducati Team

Enea Bastianini, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Factory Ducati team-mate Enea Bastianini, who was tipped by a number of riders on Friday as being a threat in the sprint, also struggled with a lack of rear grip.

The Italian, who was sixth in the race, says his rear grip was “zero” and “the worst feeling of the weekend”.

Asked if his problem was similar, Bagnaia replied: “Maybe the same thing. I saw we were both in trouble.

“It’s something that can happen sometimes, it happened many times in the past. And it happened again. But the thing that makes me angrier is this morning I was super fast.

“My pace was one of the strongest and it was impossible to do it this afternoon.”

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At the time of speaking to the media on Saturday afternoon, Bagnaia had yet to speak with Michelin about his issues.

“I didn’t speak with Michelin but we have time to speak to them, to check the data,” he added. “Maybe it was the temperature, maybe it was the conditions.

“But I saw the lap times of Maverick and it looks amazing. My target and my ambitions and my feelings of what I could do was the same pace as Maverick.”

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