Martin: MotoGP title pressure is on ‘factory’ rider Bagnaia

Jorge Martin says all the pressure is on Francesco Bagnaia. Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Jorge Martin says all the pressure is on Francesco Bagnaia in MotoGP title race. Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Jorge Martin says all the pressure is on Francesco Bagnaia after the Pramac Ducati rider moved to the top of the MotoGP World Championship for the first time in his career with a fourth successive Sprint race win in Indonesia.

Martin capitalised on Bagnaia’s failure to make it into Qualifying 2, with the factory Lenovo Ducati rider having to start from the fifth row of the grid at the Mandalika International Circuit in 13th position.

The 2022 world champion finished the race in eighth behind team-mate Enea Bastianini, who had earlier demoted Bagnaia to third place in Qualifying 1, denying the Italian an important spot in Q2.

Martin seized his opportunity with both hands to inflict maximum damage on Bagnaia’s title prospects, coming through from sixth place on the second row to claim victory – his sixth in the last seven races.

The Spaniard won from VR46 Ducati riders Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi to maintain his dominant run of recent form.

Martin now holds a slender lead of seven points over Bagnaia ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix, but Martin said his title rival is under more pressure than he is to deliver.

“It’s the same, totally the same,” said Martin of his mentality after taking over the championship lead.

“It’s the same pressure and I think that the pressure Pecco has at this moment is bigger because he has to recover points, he’s in a factory team and he needs to win this championship, but I want it also so I will try my best.”

Martin felt capable of challenging for the podium at Mandalika but admits his pace in the 13-lap Sprint race exceeded his expectations.

“For sure, I didn’t expect to be that fast today and I was aiming for a podium, but as soon as I started I felt like I had something else,” he said.

“I tried to overtake smoothly but it was difficult because this is a track where it is not easy.

“I was gaining positions step by step and I was trying to be good with the tyres, trying to manage, and being in a ‘safe’ mode on the exit of the corners.

“It was worth it because I saw that Maverick [Viñales] was super-fast, but he was struggling at the end because he was maybe too aggressive.

“I think we did a clever race and winning like this is super-good,” added Martin.

“At the end it looked like Luca [Marini] was coming super-fast but I think he was a bit on the limit.”

Martin says his position as the title leader feels like a ‘dream’ after he reached the championship summit with six rounds of the 2023 series remaining.

“It’s like a dream to be leading the championship at this point – unbelievable,” said the 25-year-old, who is targeting a fourth consecutive double on Sunday.

“We need to keep the same mentality because it was this mentality that has brought all of us here. Tomorrow, we will try to make this gap bigger.”

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