MotoGP Buriram: ‘Now I have to be smart’ - Bagnaia| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia recovered from a disappointing Japan to stand on the Buriram podium despite a rain-hit Thai Grand Prix.
With no prior running in wet conditions at the Chang International Circuit - thanks to a weekend of dry sessions and the championship’s two year absence - Bagnaia’s confidence was waining as conditions deteriorated. A pep talk from teammate Jack Miller and a strong pace as the action got underway turned the tables for the Italian, with third place the reward.
“I wasn’t so happy,” Bagnaia admitted when discussing the arrival of the torrential rain. “All the weekend but this morning more, we had a new setting, for the warmup everything was perfect. My best warmup on dry weather, everything was ready for a dry race but then when I see it started raining, I was a bit nervous.
“It was in this moment that Jack comes to me and just say something about believing more in myself on that conditions.
“But I was knowing that my potential on wet wasn’t the one in Mandalika or the one in Japan, because normally last year also I was competitive on wet - not to be on the podium but to be in the top five. Today I think the angriness of Japan have helped me to be more close to them, because normally Miguel [Oliveira] and Jack on wet, with also Johann [Zarco] are the three fastest riders on wet, on these conditions. I was sure that to be with them closely was a good idea but I was just struggling at the last part of the race with the front tyre but I think was the same situation for everybody.”
The closing stages of the race found the advancing Pramac of Zarco inches from his factory cohort, before the Frenchman called off the attack and settled for fourth. A previous altercation with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez providing the information Bagnaia needed to defend his position to the flag.
“I was seeing that in a moment I was free for one second to Marc and I was trying to follow them but they were so fast to me. Marc was closing the gap and when he tried to overtake me, I was seeing that I was losing a bit of time in the braking. So I just tried to improve that area and I think is the only reason why Johann didn’t attempt to overtake me because I was very strong on the braking I think.
“Looking at the fastest riders, I was closing a bit the gap - like in corner one, corner three - so was a bit risky and I think in our situation was good. Also I say thanks to Johann to don’t take any risk in the last part. He said the same to me, that I was fast, I was strong in the braking and to overtake me was too risky. So thanks to him, thanks to the team. We can be very happy about today.”
With three races left of 2022, Bagnaia sits just two points behind Fabio Quartararo in the battle for the championship.
“For sure now we will be more intense,” he admitted. “These last few races I will have to be very, very intelligent and smart in all the situations because I think our potential is very high. But I don’t have to commit any mistakes like Japan or like I did before the summer break. So, be smart, trying to understand every situation.
“We already know that in Australia the forecasts of the weather can be very cold so we will have to adapt. But in any case I think we can be very competitive.”