The streak of five consecutive victories by Jorge Martin in the last Sprint Races of the season was interrupted in Sepang, but the Pramac team rider can still be satisfied with second place behind Alex Marquez, with which he further cut the gap from the championship leader Francesco Bagnaia. On the eve of the Malaysian GP, only eleven points separate the Iberian rider and his rival for the title.
“It is a very positive result and it allowed us to achieve the objective of the day, which was to recover points, even if it didn't go as we expected, because Alex rode at a high level all weekend - commented Martinator at the end of the race - I'm focused on my work, but it's not like I can smile much because I need to achieve a good result tomorrow. I'm pretty serious these days, but tomorrow I hope I can show a big smile."
Already warned for being caught with a lower tire pressure than allowed, the Pramac team rider had to pay particular attention to this aspect, to avoid the risk of incurring a sanction.
“The pressure affected me a lot today, because I had to change my riding style a lot. I had never ridden with this pressure for this weekend, because we expected to be further ahead, and this did not allow me to show my full potential. I could have been faster, but it was more important to comply," he said. "It's a shame not to be able to race at 100% because of this regulation. They should come half-way and try to lower the threshold, because we don't see real races but technical races, because if my technician were to get the pressure wrong I wouldn't be able to push and show my potential. This year it goes like this, but next year you are excluded at the first mistake and this destroys the races. They will have to intervene because next year will be a disaster."
The runner-up slot is a bit tight for the Madrilenian, but he is aware of having achieved the best possible result.
“It's not about the championship, but I thought I could win today. When I overtook Alex, because he had made a mistake, he proved to be very aggressive, but I thought I was faster than Pecco at that moment, and I was, so I wanted to overtake him and go away, but Alex had more today and was faster than us" admitted Martin, whose race was heavily influenced by the start, which then forced him to jostle with Marquez and Bagnaia to regain a place on the podium.
“The start wasn't the best, I braked a little early to be more cautious, but I found myself fourth on the first lap, so we will certainly have to improve for tomorrow. I still managed to recover, even if at the beginning my tire pressure skyrocketed, because we expected to be in first or second place, but instead I was fourth and this complicated everything. As soon as I got used to riding differently, however, I managed to close the gap with Pecco and pass him and this is the most important thing, also because I thought he would stay there with me, but instead he didn't. We'll see if we can have this margin tomorrow too” commented the Spaniard, who added regarding the difficulties encountered by Bagnaia: “Pecco wasn't struggling so much when I was behind him and I pushed hard to go and catch him. I've been looking at our data all weekend and we're very close, to the point that it feels like we're looking at the same rider's data. It's complicated to understand how to improve."
Alex's data could help Jorge take a step forward ahead of the GP, but is it right for Ducati to share data among its riders?
“I think that Ducati's strategy is excellent, because all the riders can reach a good level, but from my point of view I would prefer not to see other people's data and not share my data with them, because even if sometimes it helps this happens in 10% of cases and in the remaining part I manage on my own. I seem to be able to get to the limit immediately while the others are following, but it is still a correct tactic, because we knew it would be like this when we signed with Ducati" commented the Iberian rider, who could do nothing against the great pace shown by the Gresini team rider.
“Alex was incredibly fast today, I couldn't even follow him. As soon as I caught Bagnaia I tried to overtake him, it worked and then I tried to catch Alex, but he was too quick. What matters however is that I was faster than Pecco. I have to understand what Alex had more today, because it's hard to believe that he was able to make such a difference with the same bike, but he rode really well - said Jorge - I don't know exactly where he made the difference, but in the race I saw that he had a lot of confidence at the front and definitely did a great job with the tire pressure. Furthermore, he had a lot of grip coming out of the fast corners and wore out the tires very little because he was consistent until the end. We need to see how we can improve, because we have the same bike from Misano and we certainly need to take a small step forward."
After today's success, the youngest of the Marquez brothers will also start as the underdog for the long race, in which Martin however expects a very different dynamic to that seen in the Sprint.
“I expect that the pace will be slower, because we cannot ride in time attack mode for twenty laps, especially as the tires were already at their limit, as can be seen from the fact that some riders, like Pecco, struggled in the final part. I struggled with both the front and rear, so we will have to manage the tires as we did in Thailand, because the conditions are the same - explained Martinator - I think tomorrow will be a totally different race. Alex was very fast and did some good laps, but I don't think he could have continued riding like that if the race had been longer. If he manages to keep that pace for five or six laps he will certainly win, but we hope to be able to take a step forward with the set-up to be faster and get closer to him."