Francesco Bagnaia was left relieved to have survived a tough opening portion of the Thai Grand Prix, the Italian remarking that “the battle commenced before the first lap ended.”

The factory Ducati racer made a better start than he did in the Saturday sprint encounter to move into fourth off the line, though soon found himself engaged in a cut-throat battle with KTM’s Brad Binder, the South African putting a tough move on Bagnaia at Turn 9 that relegated him back to sixth.

Conceding after the race that he soon had to abandon his plan to save his rear tyre in the early stages for a late attack due to the aggressive nature of the mid-pack tussle, Bagnaia later managed to catch up to the battle for the lead between title rival Jorge Martin and Binder.

He ultimately found himself unable to pass either rider and took the chequered flag third, though would later inherit the runners-up position after Binder was penalised for breaching track limits by hitting the green astroturf on the final lap. 

The reigning premier class world champion admitted the “intense” battles he found himself involved with didn’t allow him to manage the race the way he wanted, though felt his final result was “not bad considering how the race went” even though his points advantage had been reduced to 13 from 27 entering the event.  

“I was very happy that my start went perfectly, and I was considering that I could maybe control the race and the rear tyre,” said Bagnaia.

“I was angry with yesterday because I missed too much with the start and lost many points when I was fast. We need to improve this, and also the speed in qualifying and the sprint race.

“The battle commenced before the first lap (of grand prix) ended and there were a lot of battles with contacts, it was quite intense so I didn’t have time to manage the rear tyre and just had to push a lot to close the gap.

“Luckily I was able to reach the lead group, but not in the best shape with the rear tyre. In any case, I could recover a good position and finish second thanks to Brad (Binder) touching the green on the last lap, it’s not bad considering how the race went.”

At one point in his pursuit of the leadership Bagnaia nearly rode around the outside of Binder and Martin at the final corner, though was ultimately run out wide by the Pramac Ducati rider. Bagnaia admitted he would have done the same in Martin’s position, but felt the passes he made during the contest “were some of my best.”

“My overtakes were some of my best over the last years, because overtaking around the outside at the last corner was great. It’s normal though when you’re on the outside that the rider on the inside releases the brakes and runs you wide, I was doing the same,” added the 17-time MotoGP race victor.

“I was expecting it but I was hoping I’d be further ahead (in the corner.) The overtake would have changed the result, but I’m still happy overall with the race and more than this would have been difficult.”

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