Bagnaia pleased with Jerez Sprint podium after tough start

Francesco Bagnaia bounced back from a difficult start at Round 4 in Jerez

Francesco Bagnaia bounced back from a difficult start at Round 4 in Jerez to second in the Sprint

Francesco Bagnaia bounced back from a difficult start at Round 4 in Jerez to secure the runner-up spot in the Sprint race at the Spanish GP.

The Lenovo Ducati rider threw away points after crashing out of the lead at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas in the previous round, robbing himself of the chance of a double after comfortably winning the Sprint shootout.

Bagnaia had to earn his place in Qualifying 2 in Jerez after missing out on an automatic spot following opening practice on Friday, with the Italian topping Q1 from Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder, who won the Sprint race on Saturday.

The 2022 world champion praised his Ducati team after they improved the front-end feel of his Desmosedici.

“I’m happy with the work my team has done because yesterday I was asking for more feeling from the front and they have found a way to help me,” said Bagnaia, who capitalised on a mistake by Jack Miller on the final lap to grab the runner-up spot.

“Today, I was losing a bit of time in Sector 3, but I already saw something where we can improve.

“Today was quite tough, watching the battle between them [Binder and Miller] from behind was quite fun, with a lot of smoking, a lot of drifting, but they were competitive and their performance was quite strong on the acceleration.

“I was struggling to get close to take some advantage,” he added.

“I just tried to force a bit of braking in Turn 6 to see if I was able to overtake Jack, and I was seeing that his front was more on the limit than my one, and of course he went wide. But I didn’t want to take many risks.

“I’m very happy,” Bagnaia continued.

“This morning, I was improving my feeling but it was not enough and my team still worked a lot to get me the maximum possible.

“We managed to be competitive. It wasn’t easy in the hot conditions with the front tyre, but I’m very happy.”

Bagnaia remains second in the standings but is now only three points behind VR46 Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi, who was ninth in the Sprint race.

His Ducati team-mate, Enea Bastianini, withdrew from Jerez after completing a handful of laps in free practice on Saturday.

Bastianini is struggling with a shoulder injury he suffered after being struck by Luca Marini in Portugal, ruling him out of Argentina and America.

He will now aim to race at Round 5 in Le Mans in France from May 12-14.

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