Jorge Martin has pointed the finger firmly at a ‘bad tyre’ for leaving his 2023 MotoGP title hopes on the ropes in Qatar.
After slashing Francesco Bagnaia advantage to just seven points with victory in the Saturday Sprint, the Pramac rider weaved hopelessy away from the grid with his rear wheel spinning at the start of the grand prix.
Eighth on the opening lap, Martin gained one place when team-mate Johann Zarco ran wide, then another as he slipstreamed around Marc Marquez on lap 5 of 22.
But Martin simply didn’t have the pace and, even with clear air ahead, continued to lose ground to the leading group.
By half-distance riders were queuing up to pass him and the Spaniard was left shaking his head in frustration as he tumbled down the order, eventually crossing the finish line in tenth place.
Although Bagnaia was beaten to victory by Fabio di Giannantonio, the reigning champion will now take a commanding 21-point advantage over Martin into next weekend’s Valencia title decider, where 37 points remain up for grabs.
“For sure I wasn’t comfortable. You saw already at the start that I had a big spin and you can understand what happened; the rear tyre wasn’t working okay,” Martin told MotoGP.com.
“I’m really disappointed that the championship is decided by a bad tyre. But this happened to me. It’s a pity. But it is what it is.
“I struggled a lot. I didn’t have rear grip. I couldn’t stop the bike. I couldn’t turn. I couldn’t open the throttle. It was like wet conditions.
“I think with my experience, I was able to at least make some points [tonight] which wasn’t easy.
“Now we move on and hopefully we can do it in Valencia.”
Martin added: “Everything can happen in Valencia. Pecco can make a mistake. I can win for sure both races – but I can win if I don’t have a tyre like today!
“For sure [the title is] not decided yet but it’s not the same arriving in Valencia close, than in this condition just because of a [bad] tyre.
“A bit frustrated, but I feel like they didn’t beat us on the track. They beat us outside.
“So I’m quite relaxed and I feel like we deserve this championship.”
Michelin is yet to respond to Martin’s claims.
The #89 selected hard tyres, front and rear, for both Qatar races.
After setting the fastest lap in the Sprint, he could only manage the 11th fastest lap of the grand prix.
His pace setting 1m 53.355s race lap of yesterday compared with a 1m 53.693s today, when fellow Ducati rider Enea Bastianini (also on hard-hard) topped the list with a 1m 52.978s on his final lap.
Keyword: Qatar MotoGP: Jorge Martin: “Championship decided by a bad tyre, they didn’t beat us on track”