Motorcycle Racing

Bagnaia penalty fear in France sprint highlights ongoing MotoGP stewarding concern

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

The Ducati rider was forced to drop a position for a hard-but-fair overtake on Jack Miller at the Spanish GP two weeks ago.

In Saturday’s sprint race at Le Mans, Bagnaia engaged in a hard battle with Honda’s Marquez that resulted in an aggressive overtake from the latter, who made slight contact with the Ducati rider at the Dunlop chicane.

This went unpunished by the stewards, which Bagnaia was thankful for, but admits he was fearful of copping a penalty like he did at Jerez when trying to overtake Marquez – which he eventually did on lap 10 to finish third.

“I just said to him [after the race] that [the racing] has to be like this always, having aggressive fights and we have to be allowed to do that and not to be scared about penalties, because honestly I was scared behind him,” Bagnaia said of his Marquez battle in a sprint ultimately won by Jorge Martin.

“I had two opportunities in corner seven and I was there saying to myself ‘do I go or not’, because if you touch – what we spoke about yesterday [in the meeting with the stewards] you have to drop one position. So, I was taking care about that.”

During Friday’s safety commission meeting, FIM chief steward Freddie Spencer met with the riders to discuss MotoGP’s stewarding in 2023 following numerous incidents in the opening rounds.

It’s understood that Spencer clarified what incidents would be punished, with any touch as riders overtake each other or any contact that disadvantages a rider being punished.

Several incidents like this occurred during the sprint race at Le Mans, which led to a number of riders venting frustration at the ongoing lack of consistency from the stewards a day on from their meeting.

VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini felt the meeting was a waste of time, stating: “I’m really angry about the decision of race direction today, because it’s really strange that yesterday we spoke about everything.

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“And they said that Pecco in Jerez, dropping one position [for making contact while overtaking] was correct for them.

“So, why today they don’t apply the same rule? Because [Brad] Binder pushed me out of the track, Marquez touched Pecco when he overtook him.

“So, another time there is no consistency. It is strange. At the end of all the safety commission, I asked ‘so now the line is: if there is a contact and a rider gains a position, causes a consequence to the…

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