Martin says 2023 MotoGP title ‘stolen’ by bad tyre in Qatar GP

Pramac’s Jorge Martin has taken aim at Michelin as tyre problems in the Qatar Grand Prix left him 10th, saying “they stole” the MotoGP title from him.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Martin was imperious in Saturday’s sprint at the Qatar GP to cut Francesco Bagnaia’s championship lead down to seven points and force the title battle to the Valencia finale next week.

But in Sunday’s grand prix, Martin struggled from the off and ended up 14.819s off winner Fabio Di Giannantonio down in 10th, with his deficit to Bagnaia – who was second – growing to 21 points.

Martin blamed his form on a rear tyre that “was like a stone” from the start of the 22-lap race and has raged against Michelin – though refused to name the tyre supplier.

“Well, I don’t know. It’s difficult to understand. Looks like I forgot to ride,” he began.

“I think you could see at the start when the rear tyre started spinning, it was like a stone.

“Normally this happens when the track is dirty. It wasn’t, because it was the grid, and when the tyre maybe has 30 laps [on it], and it didn’t because it was new.

“So, you can guess what happened by your own. From that point I tried to manage a little bit but I felt I was crashing every corner on the rear.

“It’s a pity that a championship like this, after such a great season, working hard, I feel like they [Michelin] stole it from me because I think I could do it [win] before this race.

“Now it’s really difficult. So, whatever. I think it’s difficult to know what happened exactly.”

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Martin added that the problem only emerged at the start and “after three laps I understood that it was impossible to do the same” as he did in the sprint.

At the time of his media debrief, he had yet to speak to Michelin, but says it is “unacceptable that a MotoGP championship is decided by a tyre”.

On Friday in Qatar, Martin complained of a lack of rear grip, while Bagnaia struggled for pace in the sprint due to the same problem.

Problematic tyres have compromised riders’ races in the past, but when asked what they can do to end this issue, Martin replied: “I think they don’t even understand what happened.

“I guess they don’t want to decide a championship. They want to be competitive. I think so, I hope so, that they want to give us the same conditions.

“But I lost 1.5s of pace in one day. I think I didn’t forget to ride and I think they need to improve and they need to analyse so it doesn’t happen again in the future.

“Hopefully I can fight for championships in the future, but today I feel a big loss because it’s really difficult [to win the championship] now.”

Martin is convinced he could have beaten his rivals on Sunday under normal circumstances and says the emotions he felt were “like a relationship” in 40 minutes.

“At some point I started laughing, because it’s not that they beat me on track,” he said.

“With the same conditions, trust me, I was able to beat them today. But at some point I was frustrated, I was disappointed.

“It was like a big relationship, but only for 40 minutes. I had all the moments. I am frustrated for sure because I think I deserve this championship also and we lost a big part today.”

Michelin says it is still analysing what happened with Martin’s tyre and that it was never used prior to the grand prix.

Previous article MotoGP Qatar GP: Di Giannantonio takes maiden win, Bagnaia second after late scare
Next article Qatar MotoGP winner Di Giannantonio explains ‘mapping 8’ message