Guesswork after MotoGP defect in Le Mans

Francesco Bagnaia only made it three laps in the MotoGP Le Mans sprint before he had to park his Ducati. The team is frantically searching for the cause.

Markus Zörweg

Markus Zörweg

Head of Motorcycle Department

With the outstanding MSM motorcycle gang, Markus keeps things running at MotoGP, WSBK & Co. Likes to irritate with an Austrian accent.MORE

Francesco Bagnaia in the Ducati box
Francesco Bagnaia was at a loss after his failure, Photo: LAT Images

Francesco Bagnaia had put himself in a good starting position with second place on the grid in the MotoGP qualifying at Le Mans on Saturday. The sprint then turned into a debacle for the reigning world champion. Right at the start he had to correct two massive wheelies and fell back to 15th place on the first lap. As a result, Bagnaia was unable to make up any ground. On lap three, after a violent wobble, he finally came off the track in turn seven, then returned to the pits with his Ducati and gave up.

As Bagnaia’s team announced, he had started the sprint on his spare motorcycle. This was necessary because he had damaged his number one machine in a crash at the end of qualifying. Ducati didn’t want to take any risks and therefore decided to make the change. With his exactly the same bike, Bagnaia was unable to build any feeling from the start, explained team manager Davide Tardozzi during the sprint. However, he could not yet name an exact cause.

Even when Bagnaia gave his TV interviews and media round later in the afternoon at Le Mans, he could not or did not want to reveal the reason for his zero number. When asked, he only denied a defect in the ride height device. “The bike didn’t work the way it wanted to and did strange things,” Bagnaia said vaguely. “I actually wanted to finish the sprint to at least collect information about tire wear for Sunday’s race. But then I lost the front wheel while accelerating out of turn six, which is actually impossible. Then the front wheel locked in turn seven. There I had to give up.”

Bagnaia’s frustration was obvious after the sprint; he felt he had been deprived of a top result: “First or second place was definitely possible.” But he is already looking ahead. The motorcycle that was damaged in his crash in qualifying will be operational again on Sunday. “Our potential is great and my pace is one of the best in the entire field. We will try to get what we were entitled to today on Sunday,” he said aggressively.

Bagnaia experienced a setback in the world championship with the Le Mans sprint debacle. Because Jorge Martin wins, his gap to the World Cup leader increases to 29 points. Due to Enea Bastianini’s fourth place in the Le Mans Sprint, Bagnaia also loses second place in the overall standings to his teammate, who is now one point ahead of him.

© Motorsport Magazine


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