Martin vows to keep calm in Australia

Pramac rider confident he can reclaim title lead from Bagnaia after Indonesia blunder

AFP October 19, 2023


Jorge Martin insisted Thursday his race-ending blunder in Indonesia had not dented his confidence, vowing to stay calm and reclaim the MotoGP world title lead in Australia this weekend.

The Spanish ace was leading the grand prix in Lombok last Sunday by three seconds when he pushed his Pramac bike too hard and crashed out.

It allowed Italian world champion Francesco Bagnaia to snatch an unexpected victory from 13th on the grid and with it 25 points to surge back into the championship lead with five legs of the season left.

"It wasn't easy after the race and that evening I was thinking about it a lot," said Martin, who is 18 points behind the Ducati star in what has become a two-horse race to the world title.

"But I was lucky that we have this race straight away to start thinking about this weekend, so I'm just getting straight to work here."

Martin took pole position last year on the challenging Phillip Island circuit, and said he was confident of being fast again for the sprint race on Saturday and grand prix on Sunday.

"We are competitive every weekend, we are fighting for a win always and we have to just do the same," he said.

"I'm confident in all areas, I feel I am strong, I am fast so I have to be calm and try to make the most of the speed. Hopefully I can recover the points."

Martin is a proven performer in the rain and that could be a factor with wild weather forecast.

Bagnaia is also an accomplished all-weather rider and said the waterfront Phillip Island track, with its sweeping turns and overtaking opportunities, was one of his favourites.

"This track is always hard. I mean it looks like a normal Friday with no wind, then on Saturday it's some wind and then Sunday will be difficult because we will have like 12 degrees (Celsius), wind of 50kph and rain," he said.

"So it can be very, very tough, but I love to ride here. I love everything about it."

The 2022 race was a thriller with Spain's Alex Rins crossing first ahead of Spanish great Marc Marquez and Bagnaia in one of the closest finishes the sport has known.

Martin smashed the nine-year lap record to grab pole, only to finish seventh.

Being pole-sitter in Australia is no guarantee of success, with only four riders going on to win – Valentino Rossi in 2003, Casey Stoner (2008 to 2012), Jorge Lorenzo in 2013 and Marc Marquez (2015 and 2017).

Six-time world champion Marquez, who has won four times in Australia, admitted another victory was unlikely given his struggles with Honda this season.

"To win this year, it will be very difficult," said the 30-year-old, who will join Ducati satellite team Gresini Racing for the 2024 season.

"We cannot approach any race at the moment thinking we can win. We are not like one or two seconds behind the leaders, we are seven to 10 seconds behind."


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