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MotoGP legend Rossi ‘would like to understand Bagnaia critics’

MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi has hit back at critics of double world champion Francesco Bagnaia following his Spanish Grand Prix win last week.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team, Valentino Rossi

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Ducati rider Bagnaia went toe-to-toe with eight times world champion Marc Marquez in a thrilling battle for victory in the 25-lap Jerez grand prix.

Bagnaia came out on top by just 0.372 seconds to score his second grand prix win of the season to close the gap to championship leader Jorge Martin – who crashed – to 17 points.

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It came after a tough run for Bagnaia following his Qatar GP win, with the Italian throwing away sprint victory in Portugal to an error and scoring zero points in the main race after a collision with Marquez.

Then in America, Bagnaia struggled to eighth in the sprint and fifth in the GP, before getting taken out of the Jerez sprint in a collision with Brad Binder and Marco Bezzecchi.

But after his Spanish GP win, Bagnaia’s mentor Rossi took aim at his protégé’s doubters.

"These last sceptics, honestly, I would like to understand who they are,” Rossi told Sky Italy at Jerez, a week on from his first World Endurance Championship podium at Imola.

“He was very upset about [Saturday], because in the sprint there are riders who run without thinking about others.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“He felt fast in the dry, he started [the Spanish GP] with conviction and did everything right.

“The double overtaking on the outside in Turn 6 on the first lap is imagination, talent and a little bit of madness.

“But then after Martin's crash he might as well have been thinking about the championship, instead he wanted to win. If you can give 10 to a race, I think that's the case.”

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Commenting further on Bagnaia’s battle with Marquez – with whom Rossi has gone up against head-to-head on a number of occasions – added: “Pecco was very good in the fight and immediately made Marquez understand that he wouldn't give up even if Martin had fallen.

“The first time he overtook him at Turn 9, but then he went a bit wide and Pecco slipped back into 10.

“He gave him a nice entrance, the kind Marquez usually does, and made him understand that he wanted to win.

“Those are important things and in the end he still had that bit of margin that allowed him to go away, because he was really fast in the right-hand corners; it was a great satisfaction.”

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