MotoGP Catalunya: Surgery successful for Martin, ‘podium amazing’

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Jorge Martin was back on the MotoGP podium on Sunday after the Prima Pramac rider claimed a somewhat unexpected second place in the CatalanGP.

Despite the new title sponsor, introduced during the Mugello weekend, it was a return to old ways which bore fruit for Martin after the Spaniard opted to switch back to his original standard settings on the Ducati GP22 having spent the past three races trialing those of factory rider Pecco Bagnaia.

A strong qualifying showing and an equally impressive launch off the lights allowed the 24-year-old to avoid the first corner melee which saw LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami crash out, taking Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Bagnaia with him.

“It was really great to start but Honda did a great step and Pol [Espargaro] and Nakagami were incredible into the first corner. I was together with Johann [Zarco] and then I saw Nakagami overtake both of us and I was expecting he went for sure wide. So I tried to give the inside and then when he lost the front, I tried to avoid all the crashes.

“I was fighting also with Pol. The second corner I was already third So I just said ‘okay, now time to manage, time to push’. I overtook as soon as I could Aleix [Espargaro] because he was managing too much. I saw that Fabio was going away. I was pulling a little gap but then he came again and fight back but anyway, I thought I had something for the last lap.

“Even if he closed the throttle, I was trying to come back to overtake maybe in corner ten, that I was feeling strong. So yeah, happy with my result.

While Martin looked a sure thing for a podium in the closing stages, with Pramac teammate Zarco just a little too far adrift to make trouble, second was less of a given until confusion surrounding the final lap struck Aprilia’s leading light and the local rider backed off to celebrate his home rostrum prematurely.

“I saw a few laps to go he was pushing a lot and I saw he was sliding also a lot so I tried to manage and be close to him so I could fight for the last lap but then he stop,” Martin explained of Espargaro. “I thought he broke the engine so I even close on the straight, because I remember Pecco in 2020 he broke in Jerez. So I say’ okay, I close, is really hot. I just finish. I have a second with Zarco. So I say ‘I finish, podium is okay’.

“Podium is amazing after three difficult races. My bike now is standard, like the first races so the feeling is back and for sure will be back for the next races. So really confident for the next GP.

“I was using a setup in the front that was close to Pecco’s setup, from Jerez and from Jerez, I was slow,” he elaborated further on his ‘standard’ reference. “We just go to my standard setting and was completely another bike from FP1. FP2 I was close to second and today I’m on the podium! For sure I will be I think here more times and much more confidence in the front now.

“I’m a rider that needs a lot the front to ride. I think all the riders need but maybe for me a bit more,” he continued on the issues that had plagued him in recent rounds. “The last races I wasn’t feeling the front. I was just crashing every time and I didn’t know why, that was the main issue. I was losing confidence and I was entering really slow. So from this point we said ‘okay, we go back to our standard bike’ and the feeling was back right away. So super happy and ready for the future.”

And what of the future? Martin headed straight to the operating theatre rather than back to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya like the majority of the MotoGP field on Monday. Surgery, organised by Ducati, was scheduled to take place at Policlinico di Modena, Italy for the right hand that has been plaguing him since the last test at Jerez, with nerve damage creating recurrent numbness and pain. Martin posting on social media his ‘thanks to Dr. Tarallo and Ducati for helping me get back to my 100 per cent. See you soon on the track’.

Discussing the issue on Sunday evening, Martin explained it was less of an issue in the home battle but still needed to be addressed.

“I struggle two/three laps when Aleix overtook me but I saw Johann was coming so I forgot and I start to push,” he admitted. “For sure I had a bit of pain but it wasn’t a big issue. But yeah, I want to feel 100 per cent because always feeling something is not great. So I hope to recover fast and be ready in Germany.”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images