Luca Marini admitted for the first time that he, and perhaps others, are treating Francesco Bagnaia differently in the MotoGP title fight.
Bagnaia has many friends on the MotoGP grid, in large part because of his ties to the VR46 academy.
That’s not to say Jorge Martin doesn’t but we’ve already seen in recent races that riders such as team-mate Enea Bastianini, protected Bagnaia’s position in Sepang, and Fabio Di Giannantonio who made reference to being very clean when racing the world champion during today’s grand prix at Lusail.
But Marini also spoke in the post-race press conference, where he admitted he’s not racing Bagnaia the same as he normally would.
Marini said: “I treat Pecco as not like any other rider at this moment of the season. In any other moment he is the same but not now.
“I want to beat him if I have the opportunity to beat him and to catch a victory, second place, fourth place or eighth place.
“I will try to do my best but today he had a great start and first few laps. He was pushing a lot and was really strong.”
Marini was speaking after securing his first grand prix podium since COTA, which followed a third sprint podium in four just one day ago.
Unable to challenge the top two, Marini felt as though he could have gone with Bagnaia and Di Giannantonio had he not been caught up in an early scrap with Alex Marquez and Brad Binder.
Marini added: “Really satisfied with the weekend. We did a great work and the feeling with the bike was good.
“I knew that I was not the fastest because I saw that Fabio was with a very good pace since Friday.
“It was a pity because Pecco made a great start but my plan was to be first at the end of the first lap and try to open the gap. I knew that with the soft front I would have something more on the left corners in the first two laps.
“But Fabio and Alex were pushing a lot behind me and then overtook me. I lost a lot of time with Alex and Brad, so the opportunities to fight for the victory were gone.
“But I was just trying to manage the tyres in the best way. With the soft front, when you reach too high a temperature it is really difficult to ride with it.”
Keyword: Qatar MotoGP: Luca Marini: “I don’t treat Pecco Bagnaia like any other rider”