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MotoGP Australian GP

Bagnaia: MotoGP riders asking to have Australian GP dates changed

Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia says MotoGP riders have been asking for the Australian Grand Prix to be changed to earlier in the season, after poor weather forced Sunday to be cancelled.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

The threat of extreme winds for Sunday forced MotoGP to alter the schedule for the Australian GP weekend, with the main race – won by Johann Zarco – taking place on Saturday.

The sprint race was rescheduled for Sunday at 1pm local time, but had to be cancelled after conditions deteriorated through the Moto3 and Moto2 contests – the latter seeing 10 riders crash in nine laps before it was red flagged.

Weather disruption isn’t an unusual feature of an Australian GP weekend during the country’s spring season, with championship leader Bagnaia believing it would be better to move the event to the summer earlier in the year.

“We are asking for it, but I think it’s difficult to do for many reasons – maybe because of the schedule of Formula 1, I don’t know,” Bagnaia said when asked if this weekend should prompt Dorna and the race organisers to shift the event to earlier in the year.

“It’s clear that for me it could be better to move Mandalika and this race to the start [of the season] because Phillip Island in the summer is maybe better than these conditions.

“Maybe the wind will be the same but you’ll have sun, the temperature is good.

“Today in the warm-up it was impossible to warm up the front brake, and we were arriving into corner 10 every lap without brakes. So, also the temperature was too low.”

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing



MotoGP race director Mike Webb told media on Sunday that the 20 October date won’t be changing for next year as “the schedule is set”, while noting there are also “commercial reasons” at play.

Part of this will be the Australian Grand Prix Corporation’s current deal with Formula 1, which runs to 2035 and guarantees the Albert Park event takes place as one of the first three races of a season.

Former AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott told Autosport last year: "MotoGP has Qatar locked in as first race; that precludes January or February.

"We have Formula 1 at the start of the year and we need breathing space within our organisation. Plus we have to think about infrastructure and suppliers and so on.

"So the right time for MotoGP is this slot. It's a slot we're very comfortable with and so is Dorna.”

Qatar did not host the opening round of 2023 due to track works being carried out, but will do so in 2024.

Bagnaia came into Sunday’s sprint 27 points clear in the title chase after finishing second in the grand prix while championship rival Jorge Martin was fifth.

The factory Ducati rider says he “was prepared to fight for the top positions” in the sprint and that “the balance was positive” to start, despite the chance to lose points.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing



Pramac’s Martin agrees that it was correct to scrap the sprint, noting: “It was the right decision, the wind was incredible and we have seen many falls in Moto2.

“It was a race management decision and we must respect it.

“I was comfortable in the water and I saw an opportunity to recover points in this race, but it was not to be and we have to think about the next one.”

Home favourite Jack Miller felt race direction should have tried to run a few laps to assess the conditions.

“I don't agree with the decision; we should have at least tried to do a couple of laps,” Miller told DAZN immediately after the sprint was canned as he visited fans trackside.

“It's true that it's windy, but that's the way it is. If it's windy on the highway you have to keep riding.

"Sitting down to watch the bikes in these conditions is not easy. I'm disappointed, but hopefully we'll be able to race next year.”

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