Just 0.04s came between Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia and his fifth MotoGP victory in succession on Sunday at Motorland Aragon.
In a role reversal of Misano two weeks prior, Gresini’s Enea Bastianini proved the dominant Ducati force as he met the flag narrowly ahead of his soon-to-be teammate after a dramatic late-race battle had seen the two Italians head-to-head around the mountainous Alcañiz circuit.
While the win was denied, the fact Bagnaia’s main title-rival, Fabio Quartararo, had crashed out on the opening lap meant the five-point deficit was less of an issue.
“Today was very important to not make mistakes since Fabio was unlucky, it gave us a huge opportunity to recover a lot of points,” Bagnaia explained. “It was important on the last lap to finish. When I saw Enea was so close to me, I just tried to be relaxed and calm, and I thought if he overtook me I didn’t want to take any risk and just finish in the best way possible.
“If I saw an error or mistake I’d try back but he didn’t. I’m happy with the result, I did my best today and I think we made a big difference compared to the others today.
“For me, we are eight riders and we’re trying every day to raise the level,” he said of the current Ducati dominance. “Step by step we’re growing together and we’re always faster. Enea for sure is motivated like me to win races and be in front, and we’re pushing each other because I know if he’s fast, I can be. It’s like a motivational thing and we have to use that to improve ourselves.”
With five races left to run of the 2022 championship, just ten points splits Bagnaia from Quartararo, with Aleix Espargaro a further seven behind.
“Now it’s clearer: we’re close,” he admitted having played his title hopes close to his chest across the summer. “Ten points now is the lowest distance I’ve had since the start of the season so for sure I’ll try to think about the championship but not too much.
“I’ll just think about my work. I know Japan won’t be easy, we have less time to test and improve the bike, it won’t be easy. We know our bike needs more time to be prepared compared to others but I’m sure we can be competitive and I’ll try to work like we are doing and finish the races like we know to do.”