Motorcycle Racing

Bastianini’s MotoGP Malaysian GP win “a small message” to Ducati

Enea Bastianini, Ducati Team

The Italian has endured a torrid maiden campaign for the team, which has been blighted by injury and a difficulty in adapting his riding style to the 2023 bike.

With Pramac’s Jorge Martin just 11 points behind Francesco Bagnaia in the championship battle, there have been suggestions he could be swapped with Bastianini for 2024 if he wins the title – with Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti confirming at Sepang that this is a possibility.

But Bastianini went on to have his best weekend at Sepang since last year’s Malaysian GP, qualifying third and finishing fourth in the sprint before going on to win Sunday’s main race.

Asked whether he felt his win was a “big message” to Ducati amid the rumours, Bastianini said: “Yeah, I don’t know if it’s a big message or a small message. Big can be if I win the rest of the races.”

Insight: 10 things we learned from the 2023 MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix

Bastianini’s woes began in Portimao, where he suffered a broken shoulder in a sprint collision which forced him out of the following four rounds.

He returned at Mugello before another crash in Barcelona saw him suffer fractures to his left ankle and hand.

The Ducati rider made his second comeback in Indonesia, and this weekend’s win brings his points tally to 76 for the season.

Speaking after the race, he said “the beast is back,” adding: “It’s fantastic after this s**t season for me to arrive at this victory.

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Enea Bastianini, Ducati Team

“Also it was unexpected, because we started the weekend with a different mind, because we had to understand what the solution was.

“My crew chief called me one week ago and said ‘I know what I want, I have checked the data with the lap times and I know what you need’.

“At the end it was like this, have promised this and arrived this great result. Also was enough to win because yesterday [in Saturday’s sprint] I see my pace and understand that ‘okay, tomorrow you can win’.

“This morning it was fast and my objective was only to be first at the first corner and then stay like this and push like a bastard for all the race.”

His team-mate Bagnaia currently leads the standings on 412 points with two rounds remaining, with Martin on 398 and VR46 Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi in third.

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