MotoGP

Bagnaia explains Portimao MotoGP practice gravel scooping incident

The Ducati rider was one of several caught out by the wet conditions on Friday at the Algarve International Circuit, with Bagnaia falling from his bike at Turn 3 early on in FP2.

The Italian was seen scooping up some of the gravel into his hands and delivered it to Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi upon his return to pitlane.

Bagnaia says he did this because the gravel “destroyed” his bike way more than it should have and feels the safety of the large stones lining the track needs to be discussed.

“Yes, because for the crash we had for sure the bike was too much destroyed because the gravel is too big, it’s not smooth like the standard gravel like we have to have in the tracks,” he said.

“So, it’s something we have to speak about in the safety commission.

“For our safety, for the safety of our bikes too, it’s normal to have a smoother gravel for sure.”

This is not the first time the safety of Portimao’s gravel traps have been called into question, while Bagnaia notes it is a similar situation at Mandalika in Indonesian and Spanish GP host Jerez.

“In Mandalika it [the gravel] too was really big,” he added.

“There are like three tracks in the championship where the gravel is more or less like this: it’s Jerez, Mandalika and here.

“We were complaining already last year when [Jorge] Martin crashed.

“If you look, every crash in this track when you arrive to the gravel you start to roll a lot. And this means you can get hurt from the gravel, so it’s not so safe. Also for the others.”

At points during Friday’s running, the circuit accumulated a lot of standing water, which prompted some riders to express concerns.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro felt the conditions in the final 10 minutes of FP2 should have stopped the session.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“The last 10 minutes from my point of view was 100% red flag,” he said.

“There was a lot of standing water, a lot of rivers crossing the line.

“And for me it was a bit dangerous, but for the rest it was not bad.

“Also, the wind, but the wind was also high in Qatar, in America. But especially the standing water, the rivers crossing the track was the worst thing in the last 10 minutes.”

KTM’s Brad Binder noted that the grip isn’t bad in the wet, but quickly deteriorates depending on the intensity of the rainfall.

“Well, the thing is here the grip’s not terrible, it wasn’t bad this morning, quite good,” the KTM rider noted.

“But it’s just when it starts to rain it changes really quickly from a level that’s not bad to where you feel a big loss of grip really quickly.

“And there’s certain places over the start finish line and exiting Turn 4 to 5 where you need to be careful with the wheelie because you put down the front wheel and there’s so much water that it doesn’t come back. So, a little bit sketchy.”

Suzuki’s Joan Mir admits he was “surprised” at how much standing water was being left by the rain, adding: “Luckily it didn’t rain a lot, but the track was with a lot of water on the surface.

“Looks like the track doesn’t drain the water and you have aquaplaning.

“This is the thing. I think that we never make any sessions in these conditions.

“Normally wet, but not that wet. I didn’t expect this. In FP2 the conditions were not great and for sure if it rains more it will be really dangerous.”

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