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MotoGP Austin: ‘More than this was impossible’ - Bagnaia

Ducati’s Pecco Bagnaia showcased an impressive comeback at COTA on Sunday, claiming the MotoGP podium after struggling in sixth mid-race

The recent double winner launched from the front row, alongside title-rival Fabio Quartararo and eventually race victor Marc Marquez, but tyre issues prevented him from capitalising in the early stages.

Dropping as low as sixth by mid-race distance, the Italian regrouped to overcome Suzuki’s Alex Rins, and with a little help from team-mate Jack Miller and Jorge Martin’s long lap penalty he was back on the box with three laps to spare.


“In the start I was feeling that the rear tyre was already, I don't know how to name it, but was not maybe hot, so I just tried to manage well the first part of the race,” he explained on Sunday night. “Then I was seeing that some riders like Marc or Fabio, were fast, other riders that were pushing a bit too much with the rear tyre. So I say, 'just wait a bit, try to save your pace,’ because at the start with some riders in front of you is more difficult to brake when you want.

“So I was calm at the start and I was seeing that the other riders were starting to struggle. And then I said, ‘better my pace’. I was, again, on the five-low, four-high, so that was not fast like Marc or Fabio but was enough and I was seeing that the podium was there. I have also to say thanks to Jack that let me past. He was a bit struggling but he have done a great teamwork so I'm very happy about it. Today, more than this was impossible.”

Bagnaia was stuck behind, and fighting with Jorge Martin for five laps as the race neared its climax, but the Italian knew that he wouldn’t be there for long and that he didn’t need to push too hard.

“I was sure that he would receive a penalisation because he was cutting turn five,” he admitted. “So I didn't push too much to overtake him. I was seeing that he was in trouble with the braking, and I tried to overtake him clear in the turn 12. But then I was thinking that he will receive a penalisation.”

With 52 points now splitting the Ducati rider from his Yamaha rival in the World Championship standings, Bagnaia is realistic about his chances for the 2021 crown.

“For sure I will not give up, but Fabio this year has done a great job,” he stated. "He was the fastest at the start and then is the one that remained more constant. So is really a great rider.

"For sure, he will have the possibility to win, and we know where we lost these points. In these last three, four races we are doing a really good job, we are improving, we are learning, so we are more competitive, I think, and Fabio is doing a really great job.

“I need to just try to close this gap, that looks like is impossible to close. I'm more relaxed than I think Fabio, because Fabio have to think on the championship. I have to think on being more competitive as possible. I'm not saying that Fabio is not relaxed but I'm more calm, I think. I will not for sure do something like Aegerter. Because if you have the possibility to overtake, you overtake and if you don't have it, is too risky to do something. We don't have eight/seven points between us, but 50, so I think that that is not something that I have to do.”

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