Did Fabio Di Giannantonio cost him the MotoGP victory?

Marc Marquez was just 0.446 seconds short of finally clinching his first MotoGP victory since October 2021 at Le Mans on Sunday. A more than remarkable performance from 13th place on the grid, after which he had already raced onto the podium in second place in the sprint the day before. And in the French Grand Prix he again made a strong comeback, but in the end it wasn’t enough to make a big splash. Only on the last lap did the Gresini driver find a way past Francesco Bagnaia, but race winner Jorge Martin was already too far ahead for a final attack. So Marquez still has to wait for his first Ducati victory – and the reason for that is probably Fabio Di Giannantonio.

Everything went according to plan for Marquez at Le Mans until the 17th of 27 laps. The Gresini pilot already suspected on Saturday that the previous day’s rocket launch would be difficult to repeat. Instead, this time he grabbed his competitors in the main race bit by bit: first Enea Bastianini on lap 3, the fallen Pedro Acosta on lap 4, then Aleix Espargaro on lap 11 and finally Maverick Vinales on lap 14. “I stayed calm and knew that “In my head, I had the top five as my goal,” says the MotoGP superstar, describing his approach.

Marc Marquez angry: Very strange duel with Di Giannantonio

However, when he reached fourth place, he realized that more than just another podium could be possible that day. After the overtaking maneuver against Vinales, he was only 2.190 seconds behind leader Bagnaia with 13 laps remaining. Marquez quickly reduced his gap by almost five tenths, but then ran into third place on the 17th lap Fabio Di Giannantonio. Marquez braked on the inside next to the VR46 driver on the approach to the Dunlop chicane, but he didn’t give in and stopped on the outside lane. When he made the turn for the next right-hand bend, Di Giannantonio was on the inside again, but not quite in the front. There was light contact, Marquez went wide and lost momentum. The attempt to overtake failed.

“I lost a lot of time in a strange duel,” said the eight-time champion after the end of the race, annoyed and explained: “Sometimes you have to understand what phase of the race you are in. If a driver attacks you from behind, you can do it “We didn’t lose two seconds because of the contact in the chicane, even though I was already in position.” The loss of time wasn’t that bad, with Marquez only losing 0.8 seconds to the leading duo between laps 17 and 18. But the Spaniard’s point becomes clear: While Di Giannantonio had to give up just one lap later, Marquez now had to catch up on Bagnaia and Martin by 2.6 instead of 1.8 seconds – possibly the decisive difference.

Marc Marquez was no longer able to fully catch up with Jorge Martin, Photo: LAT Images
Marc Marquez was no longer able to fully catch up with Jorge Martin, Photo: LAT Images

Marc Marquez: Too exhausted for final attack on MotoGP victory

“Without this duel I would have had better chances, I would have had more laps behind them,” says the Gresini driver. As it was, he no longer had enough grains in the tank to seriously contend for victory. He describes: “When I caught up with them, I was completely exhausted. I had been pushing the entire race and had no time to rest. I still wanted to attack, but I didn’t feel so comfortable on the bike anymore. Pecco had one strong acceleration, so it was difficult to find a suitable overtaking point. So I said to myself that I would wait and see if something happened. When Pecco Martin didn’t attack on the last lap, I got out well on turn eight then said to myself: Now I’ll try it and I actually managed to brake the motorcycle in time.”

The reward was second place, which the Spaniard described as “more than enough” on Sunday afternoon. With a starting position of 13th, he managed to limit the damage in both races; only his World Championship rival Martin scored more points in France. But such a botched qualifying shouldn’t happen too often anymore if Marquez wants to have a say in the world title in 2024. Because: “13th place affects your race enormously. This time I was able to save the weekend, but next time it might not be so easy. That only works once or twice a year.”

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