Bagnaia was expecting last-lap German GP showdown before Martin crash

Bagnaia was expecting last-lap German GP showdown before Martin crash

Pramac rider Martin was circulating comfortably in the front as the Sachsenring race neared its conclusion, having started from pole position and retaken the lead from title rival Bagnaia on lap 7 of 30.

But the Italian appeared to have a small advantage in his pocket after spending the early part of the race saving his rear tyre, which could have potentially brought him back into play in the final laps.

Ultimately, a direct fight between the two championship protagonists wasn’t to be, with Martin making a big mistake under braking for Turn 1 and ending up on the ground on lap 29. He was leading the field by around 0.6s at the start of that tour.

Speaking after his sixth triumph of the year, Bagnaia admitted that his strategy of dropping down to third place to eke out more life from the tyres did cost him some time, but he feels he could have closed right back on him by the final lap.

“I was just trying to be very, very precise with the rear tyre because I knew that the more tyre I had in the last part of the race, the better it was. So I tried everything,” the factory Ducati rider summed up.

“When I saw both Pramac [Martin and Franco Morbidelli] overtook me, they were pushing a bit too much. So I just decided to slow down a bit, wait a bit and then I pushed back.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing crash

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“Maybe I lost a bit too much behind Franky because then Jorge was having more than one second and then I tried to push back again to try to recover to Jorge. 

“I was very close but then he crashed. So unluckily. I think it could have been one of the greatest battles between us in the last lap but nothing. 

“So happy, fourth win in a row on Sunday. So happy for it. And fortunately, the best way to go with a big smile on the summer break.”

Bagnaia was facing a 39-point deficit to Martin just under two months ago when he crashed out of the Catalan GP sprint, as he faced a much stiffer challenge from the 2023 title runner-up at the start of the year.

But four consecutive grand prix victories following that mistake have allowed him to convert that deficit into a 10-point lead in the standings heading into the summer break, a swing of 49 points – almost two Sunday wins – in such a short span of time.

However, despite his title rival Martin showing that he continues to crack under pressure, Bagnaia doesn’t think his inherited victory at the Sachsenring marks a turning point for the championship.

“I’m in this mood already from six or seven grands prix,” he said. “I’m feeling well and fantastic with my team. We are doing a perfect job every weekend. We won six races, five in the last six grands prix. So I’m very happy and we are in a good mood for sure. 

“But I don’t think that also for Jorge it will change. It will be like starting from zero again because we have 10 points in terms of gap and the championship is still very very long. So it’s not the time to think about the turning point or the championship. It’s too long.”

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