News 20 Oct 2023

'It will be very important to start at the front' - Bagnaia

Italian narrowly misses direct transfer into qualifying two in Australia.

Image: Supplied.

Defending MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia will take part in qualifying one yet again, saying ‘it will be very important to start at the front’ after he failed to secure a direct transfer to qualifying two in practice at Phillip Island.

Bagnaia concluded this afternoon’s practice session in 11th position, narrowly missing out on the all-important top 10 position to secure an instant spot into tomorrow’s final qualifying.

It marks the second round in succession that the Italian will take part in qualifying, and last time out at Mandalika he was unsuccessful in progressing from the session and had to start from P13 on the grid.

“I was feeling well, honestly, before the soft,” said Bagnaia. “With the medium rear, my pace was good, I was doing a really good job with the bike, but when we put in the soft, I started to struggle a lot with the situation, in the entrance to the fast corners.

“So maybe, it was better to put it in like other riders at the start of the session, but it was not our strategy. We will see tomorrow what we will have in the morning, and it will be important to understand and try different things for the morning and then try to enter Q2. The conditions tomorrow can change a bit, it will be very, very important to start at the front.”

While the poor grid position didn’t help Bagnaia’s cause in Indonesia’s sprint race, where he ultimately finished eighth, he was able to rebound from the fifth row of the grid last Sunday to take what could be a pivotal race win.

There will be an added importance of getting things dialled in free practice two tomorrow morning, as a schedule change in response to the inclement weather forecast sees Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix race effectively swap with the sprint.

Ahead tomorrow’s action, Bagania holds an 18 point advantage at the top of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship standings, as practice today was led by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder.