Martin ‘ready for whatever comes’ in Bagnaia title fight

Jorge Martin is closing in on MotoGP championship leader Francesco Bagnaia. Image:

Jorge Martin is closing in on MotoGP championship leader Francesco Bagnaia. Image:

Jorge Martin’s unrelenting assault on Francesco Bagnaia’s dwindling MotoGP championship lead continued with another magical weekend for the Pramac Ducati rider at the Japanese Grand Prix.

After smashing the lap record in qualifying at Motegi, Martin won his third Sprint race in a row and completed a clean sweep at Round 14 with victory in Sunday’s red-flagged race, when the Spaniard was declared victorious after a restart was not possible due to deteriorating wet conditions.

Bagnaia was confirmed in second based on positions at the end of Lap 12 when the race was halted, but the reigning champion’s advantage at the top is now only three points heading to Mandalika in Indonesia in two weeks’ time.

All the momentum appears to be with Martin, whose confidence was reflected in his willingness to set the pace in the treacherous conditions.

He was able to pull away from Bagnaia at the front by more than one second after recovering from a mistake, which dropped him several positions.

“It was complicated, difficult to maintain the calm at that point, but it was the same for everybody,” Martin said, referring to the onset of rain as the riders set off on their warm-up lap.

“It was a bit risky on the first lap, because we were on the slicks and it started to rain quite a lot. I was in first position and normally the first one is the one to crash.

“At that point, at Turn 11, I led [Jack] Miller and Pecco [Bagnaia] overtook me. I was able to see what they were doing and when they stopped, I said ‘Okay, it’s time for flag-to-flag’.

I changed my bike, it was a good change. I was the first one of the wet guys but I almost crashed in corner 3, then again at 6 or 7, but I was able to recover all those positions and keep pushing. To make that gap with Pecco was not easy but I was able to do it.”

It was Martin’s maiden MotoGP triumph in the wet and the Pramac rider says he has shown he is ‘competitive in all conditions’ as he chases the world title.

“My first victory in the wet, so I’m super happy – I’m competitive in all conditions. The team did an amazing job and we are super good with this pressure,” said Martin.

“I used to be quite competitive in wet conditions but I struggled a bit when I jumped into MotoGP, but I was already competitive in the past [in Moto3 and Moto2].

“I’m happy that I’ve finally found this feeling with the bike that allows me to be competitive in all conditions and I’m more ready for whatever comes.”

Martin is riding the crest of a wave and is relishing the championship run-in, with the 25-year-old feeling confident of his prospects at the upcoming circuits over the final six rounds.

“I have a lot of confidence,” he said. “For the rest of the season there is not a track where I struggle.

“Let’s go for a good result, to be consistent, and let’s see what they bring.”

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