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MotoGP, If you run away, I'll marry you: in the mind of Marquez and Bagnaia before the collision

ANALYSIS: The last six laps of Pecco and Marc's race confirm all the doubts, but also the certainties, of Ducati, which now has to make its decision with some more doubts

MotoGP: If you run away, I'll marry you: in the mind of Marquez and Bagnaia before the collision

Resist to the bitter end, or let up when the opponent behind you is faster? The answer is not unambiguous: we like tough riders, those who sell their skin dearly, but then in the end it's the smart ones who win the titles. And reacting on instinct is not always the best thing.

Of course, we're talking about the collision between Marquez and Bagnaia, which both of them could have avoided and that's why there was no penalty in what was deemed to be a racing incident. So is everyone happy? No not at all!

A very brief analysis before moving on to a completely different topic: let's look at the last six laps of the race of both of them, then Marquez rejoined, not to take points but to confirm that aggressiveness that has always distinguished him, Bagnaia on the other hand threw in the towel there and then. Watch out, because world championships are also won by a single point. But more on that later, back to the lap times.

In the last six laps before the fact Pecco stopped the clock in 1.39.0, 1.39.332, 1.39.309, 1.39.229, 1.40.394, 1.39.525.
Marc, for his part in the same laps did 1.39.303, 1.39.241, 1.39.296, 1.38.973, 1.39.607, 1.39.532.

The decisive laps were the 20th and 21st: in the 20th in fact, Marquez hounded the tail of Bagnaia's GP24 by doing his fastest lap in the race, 1.38.973, while Pecco was running 1.39.229, raising his time further on the next lap to 1.40.394, where Marc was doing 1.39.607. Then in the next lap the times were equal, logical since the two were now in contact.

We are not in the minds of the two riders, but what they thought is as clear as if they had a comic book bubble coming out of their helmets.

Marc: "now I'll pass him, I'll get the fifth place I set out to do and put my GP23 in front of his official bike."
Pecco: "I have no more rubber, but I'll resist because I don't want to finish behind him."

Both logical reasoning, from great riders, with a small but not insignificant difference: Marquez this year - although anything is possible - is not racing for the world championship, does not have to defend any pride and he confirmed it by surrendering to the faster Acosta. Bagnaia, on the contrary, is racing for the world championship and yesterday in Portimao he did not defend 5th place, a paltry one point difference with 6th, but rather the honor of reigning world champion at the helm of Gigi Dall'Igna's latest weapon. That's OK, but the question is, in his case, was it worth it? Not least because ahead of him were the GP24s of Jorge Martin and teammate Enea Bastianini anyway. And one just slightly bad day can happen.

So let's forget all the reasoning about who's wrong or who's right in the collision, an episode that has already passed judgment, and let's talk about opportunity.

A good answer - he premised that he did not want to 'take the bait' of the journalist's question - was provided by Claudio Domenicali with a declaration that reveals much more than he intended to say: ' I understand them, but I don't completely justify them, this can be a good summary.'

It is, because then in his mind the complete sentence was, "Pecco, let him go, you are the champion, you have two years of signed contract, what did you have to prove?"

Whatever, these are my lucubrations. I'm not crucifying anyone. I have seen hundreds of incidents like this, some voluntary, some less so. This certainly did not involve voluntariness on either side. Let's say that when you are in a tank with a white shark, you should expect to be bitten. It's not malice, it's instinct. And in Marc's case - go back up a little bit in this piece - it's instinct that made him immediately pick up the bike again to try to grab even one little point as Pecco walked around in the gravel.

Marquez was already thinking about the next bite, Bagnaia who knows what.

But whatever, the important fact is another and has to do with the rider market. And what I am going to write will please few.

In my opinion Ducati would love to have the pairing of Bagnaia-Marquez in 2025, for obvious reasons of competitiveness and media resonance. Obviously, the decision must be made on logical, not emotional grounds, and these grounds are based primarily on Francesco Bagnaia's title reconfirmation.

Having put that away in the safe in Borgo Panigale they can specifically decide to take the eight-time world champion home for a dream team, or keep the excellent Bastianini, who is fast and nice and with Pecco forms a good team.

What they do not want is to have to decide, perhaps by the Mugello GP so in the midst of uncertainty, and then find themselves at the end of the season with the title in the hands of, perhaps, Jorge Martin who, if not confirmed, would take the number 1 somewhere else.

Whichever way it goes Ducati will lose a very good rider at the end of 2024, be it Martin or Bastianini. Or even maybe Marquez. The point is: which one is better to lose, which one is more interesting in so many ways? And again: can we afford to say to someone like Marquez, if you want to stay in a satellite team, we'll still give you the GP25 and all the assistance you need? With the risk, far from remote, of seeing him win the title?

Come on, let's stop pretending, as Pernat says, that today's Marquez is the 'Marquez minus a few things': he is the Marc of all time, who if you put a competitive bike in his hands will fight until the last drop of energy. The one who has made crashing a trademark.

Then, sure, today he no longer has the freshness of his 20s and Acosta, Bastianini and even Bagnaia have arrived, but do we venture to say that Marc has something to prove? And what? And to whom?

Of course everyone is free to have their own ideas. These are mine and by falling into the trap of pride, Pecco Bagnaia has complicated in no small part the decision that Ducati is called upon to make, pushing it further down the road in time. Which to Marquez changes nothing, or in short, not much, while to those in Borgo Panigale, quite a bit.

 

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