Motor Sports

Bagnaia gains advantage over MotoGP title rival Martin

VALENCIA: Defending champion Francesco Bagnaia landed a significant blow on his title rival Jorge Martin in securing second spot on the grid for both the sprint race and tomorrow's Valencia MotoGP.

Ducati rider Bagnaia will start on the front row alongside Spanish pole-sitter Maverick Vinales for the sprint later today, where depending on the result he could secure a second successive crown.

The Italian leads Ducati-Primac's Martin by 21 points going into the final round of the season – a win in both the sprint and the MotoGP earns the rider 37 points.

"This is fantastic, I am very happy," purred Bagnaia.

"On Friday we were a bit unlucky.

"Today we made a few adjustments and everything went well.

"Qualifying was a real success for me and I achieved my target, so I am confident for the sprint this afternoon," added the 26-year-old Italian.

Martin by contrast produced an edgy error-ridden qualifying performance doing nothing to lift his spirits, which were already down after the Spaniard claimed his title chances had been "stolen" due to a dodgy rear tyre in last weekend's Qatar MotoGP.

For Martin's compatriot Vinales it was a landmark day as he posted his first pole for Aprilia.

"I am delighted, but not only just for the pole position, but the potential to achieve even more this weekend."

Bagnaia could ease the pressure completely by securing the title in Saturday's sprint.

If the Ducati rider can boost his lead to 25 points he will be assured of the championship due to having six grand prix wins to Martin's four.

Sprint wins do not count t

owards a tiebreak for riders being equal on points. — AFP

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