Motorcycle Racing

Bagnaia admits MotoGP sprints helping his title defence after three DNFs

Bagnaia ultimately lost out to Jorge Martin in the Le Mans sprint, but picked up solid points once more

Bagnaia was wiped out in a collision with Maverick Vinales while the pair battled for third on the fifth lap of last Sunday’s grand prix at Le Mans.

The incident marked Bagnaia’s third Sunday DNF in the first five rounds, having crashed out of second in Argentina and the lead in America.

But the Ducati rider still holds a one-point championship lead, thanks in large part to his strong sprint showings.

Of the 96 points Bagnaia has scored, 44 of those have come from sprint results, with the Italian winning two, scoring podiums in two and sixth in the other.

“For sure the sprint race helps, because without the sprint race I would be so far behind,” Bagnaia conceded after the French GP.

“I have 50 points [from grands prix]. I have 44 points just from the sprints, so this for sure helps.

“But this year it’s quite clear that we are always in the front, we are always there leading, and the other riders are circulating in terms of performance, which explains this gap [I still have].

Bagnaia ultimately lost out to Jorge Martin in the Le Mans sprint, but picked up solid points once more

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“But years ago it was not possible to lead the championship [with three GP DNFs], because four riders were always in front and one mistake could cost the title.

“So, this has changed a lot, maybe because now we are all more or less with the same package, everyone has the potential to win a race.

“Years ago, [the order] was like factory bikes were here [at the front] and independent bikes were here [behind], like six tenths, seven tenths each lap [slower]. It has changed a lot.”

Bagnaia was able to win the 2022 title having amassed five DNFs and slipped 91 points adrift in the standings at the halfway stage of the season.

No one in MotoGP history had previously won a title recovering from such a large deficit and with as many non-finishes.

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