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MotoGP, How Martin lost the battle in Australia with Bagnaia. Will Zarco be an ally?

The battle between Jorge and Pecco is hotting up with only 4 GPs remaining in the world championship. Martin needs to attack but above all not make mistakes. When will help from his teammates kick into action?

MotoGP: How Martin lost the battle in Australia with Bagnaia. Will Zarco be an ally?

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The situation is beginning to get tense between Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin. With four Grands Prix and four Sprint races remaining in Thailand, Malaysia, Qatar and Valencia, the latter three in succession, they are enter the '8000-metre zone', where the air is thin and rarified.

The points available, overall, are 148, but the Pramac team rider is trailing at -27, after having briefly led the world championship after the Sprint race in Indonesia.

Actions define men, and even more so the riders. Jorge is a pure attacker, one who even in the recent past lost out on Enea Bastianini's place today because he was deemed as not being sufficiently reliable.

On the contrary, Pecco, despite having also made several mistakes (too many) this year, is colder.

They are both on the same bike and managed by Ducati men on both sides of the garage, so the difference is made neither by the equipment nor by the people they have at their side.

They make the difference.

Martin paid dearly for the crash in Indonesia while he was comfortably in the lead and for the subsequent, incorrect choice of tyres in Australia.

Rather than being a totally wrong choice, the latter appears rather to be his inability to really make a difference with the soft tyre. Moreover, it was chosen only by Marc Marquez but with a totally different intent: that of having fun for at least 10 laps.

In fact, Jorge reached his maximum advantage in the Phillip Island GP on the 15th of the 27 scheduled laps with a 3.497s lead over his pursuers, Binder, Di Giannantonio and, slightly further behind, Bagnaia and Zarco, less than five seconds away.

From that moment on he started to lose ground. Slowly at first - on lap 19 he still had a 3.204s lead over Diggia - then increasingly quickly.

By the 22nd lap the gap had been reduced to 2.426s and from that moment on there was a collapse: on lap 24 he crossed the line with a lead of 1.787s, on lap 25 it was 1.254s, an advantage that virtually disappeared on the following lap to just 0.440s, so much so that on the lap after he was overtaken by all his pursuers and even sank to fifth position, finishing one second behind the winner, Johann Zarco.

Jorge Martin's mistake, therefore, was not only that of having gambled everything on breaking away instead of a healthy head-to-head confrontation which he might have even won, but despite the soft tyre he was unable to accumulate a sufficient advantage to allow him to manage the final stages.

How much advantage should he have accumulated? Maybe at least 5s, maybe even more to be able to cross the finish line in first position.

Race management is everything, at a certain point against the competition. By crashing in Indonesia Jorge not only lost 25 points, but handed 5 to Bagnaia who would have finished second.

In Australia, naturally, the toll was even heavier and from -4 in the standings on the third to last lap it plummeted to the current -27.

It may well be that Jorge is faster than Pecco at the moment, but this is not enough to win the world championship. He will be required not to make any mistakes. And let's face it: it will be fun in a couple of races to find out if Ducati, despite having the riders' world championship firmly in hand, will allow the second riders of the respective teams to fight in favour of one or the other.

It was not possible to ask Zarco to forego his first victory, and it wouldn't have helped even if he had tried to slow down his pursuers given Martin's collapse, but in the next races, who knows...

 

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