Francesco Bagnaia concedes that Jorge Martin currently “has the momentum” in their battle for the 2023 MotoGP title following his defeat to the Spaniard in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The reigning premier class world champion battled with Martin throughout Sunday’s encounter at a sodden Mobility Resort Motegi venue, the duo swapping positions on multiple occasions throughout the different stages of the race.

Bagnaia passed Martin on the opening lap as the field took the green flag on slicks on a slippy track surface before the pole-man moved ahead in the pits as they changed to wet tyres at the end of the opening tour, before Bagnaia then moved back ahead after Martin ran wide at Turn 3.

The charging Pramac Ducati rider though later caught and passed Bagnaia before snatching the leadership away from Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, Martin ultimately holding the advantage before the race was finally ended on lap 13 due to worsening weather conditions.

Bagnaia admitted after the race that he was disappointed the race didn’t go the full distance as he felt he was looking after his rear tyre better than Martin, and believed that he could have fought him for the win in the closing stages. He also conceded that his chief rival for this year’s title now “has the momentum” as his lead shrinks to just three points ahead of the Indonesian GP.

“The rest of the season will be interesting (title fight), It will be a great fight and for sure it’s more intense right now and quite difficult because Jorge has the momentum,” said Bagnaia after finishing second in the Japanese GP.

“We will fight and we’ve worked well this weekend as we managed to find something that helped me a lot yesterday, and today for sure was a bit better too.

“We will have our time, the next races at Mandalika we’ll battle against everyone as it’s important to be at the top again.  

“It was unlucky we didn’t have time to finish the race because I think with the tyre management I would have been quite competitive in the last part of the race, but I’m happy with second.  

“We just had two different ways of riding today, he (Martin) was pushing a bit too much on the entrance (to corners) and using more traction on exit and I was just trying not to have too much consumption on the rear.

“I had the medium and the asphalt at the start of the race wasn’t too wet so I just tried to control things, but it turned out to be useless because of the red flag, so we lost a possibility (to win.)”

Bagnaia added that he felt race control throwing the red flag when it did was the right call as “aquaplaning became too much” as the rain continued to hammer the Motegi track surface.

“It was quite tricky, I did a good flag-to-flag (pitstop) but then I got stuck with the pit limiter and lost three or four positions,” continued Bagnaia.

“I was trying to gain lap by lap without pushing too much, but then when the red flag came out I understood.

“It was the best time to have the red flag because it was really risky as aquaplaning became too much.”

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