The last weekend of the season couldn't have started better than this for Jorge Martin, who ended Friday in Valencia in second position, while the leader of the world championship standings, Francesco Bagnaia, missed out on direct access to Q2, being excluded from the top 10. An encouraging start for the Pramac team rider, called upon to plug a 21-point gap with the rider from Chivasso, to fulfil his dream of becoming MotoGP Champion.
“I'm happy because everything went well. I was very fast and that's the most important thing. I felt very competitive in terms of pace on the used tyres. I was the only one with Zarco to use them and I'm happy to have maintained a good level - said Martinator at the end of the day, summing up FP2 - I knew that the tests had ended with the yellow flag for the crash in turn 3 and that I was in the top 10, but I didn't know about Pecco because I didn't know his time. When I returned to the pits I told my mechanics to stay calm because this is not a victory: it was the ideal day, but there are still two more to go. It's good, but not good enough."
A perfect afternoon for Jorge, who managed to benefit from his tactics.
“We adopted a difficult strategy by opting for an early time attack mid-session, to try to stay in the top positions with the medium on the front, which is a compound that I don't like. Then we took a risk by following Pecco. I thought that if he had entered Q2 I would have gone with him, otherwise I would perhaps have passed through Q1. I knew I had to take that risk and in the end I managed to do a good lap,” he said.
There were moments of tension at the end of the afternoon session, when the Madrid native began to follow his direct opponent like a shadow.
“I followed him to try to understand his lines, his weaknesses and his strengths. Obviously I was close, I think it was the only way to put some pressure on him, but it was more about staying with him to try to play the same game, that is to both be in Q2 or Q1. In the end I managed to do that fast lap behind him. I felt very good, while he was certainly not happy with the situation - explained Martin - I noticed that there are two corners where he is stronger than me and where we need to improve tomorrow. For the rest, we followed very different lines and I think my front tyre even overheated due to how close I was, because it was prepared for me to go alone."
The close marking on Pecco yielded useful information to the 25-year-old, but the top management of the official Ducati team didn't like it so much. In particular Davide Tardozzi, who paraded in front of the Iberian rider upon his arrival in the pitlane.
“I saw that they were a little upset by the situation, but it is clear that it was the only thing we could do. I didn't push him off the track or anything like that, I just followed him. Several riders did it to me and Pecco during the season and didn't say anything, so I think they just need to relax a little and understand the situation" commented Jorge, who was keen to point out that he had not attempted in any way to hinder the reigning champion: “I had to stay close to him and let him know that we are there to fight, but it wouldn't have been right to ruin his lap. This is why I remained behind him to observe his trajectories. It's certainly not pretty to look at nor something I'm used to doing, but it's what I needed. I wasn't going to go to the next level and bother him."
Under direct contract with Ducati, Martin hopes that the Borgo Panigale manufacturer understands the situation and is ready to rejoice for him even if he manages to wrest the title from Pecco.
“I am part of Ducati and if I were to win, as was the case with my other results, I would do it for my team, but also for Ducati itself, so I hope they will be happy that I managed to win too” observed Jorge, who has the strategy to adopt in tomorrow's Sprint Race in mind: “I think the options will be to win or stay ahead of Pecco. If I have to be behind him I will push as hard as I can to get in front of him."
The many crashes seen this Friday do not worry Martinator, who is ready to do his utmost to triumph in front of his fans.
“We also saw many crashes in Moto3. The track has a lot of grip and is very fast and it's complicated, because I think we all feel at the limit with the front. There are some places where there is a lot of grip and others where we struggle a bit in the centre of the corner, but I don't know why - concluded the Ducati rider - We'll have to try to understand why I often lose the rear when cornering, given that it's something that doesn't usually happen. We accomplished a lot between the morning and the afternoon and I'm counting on the fact that we'll do the same between today and tomorrow."