Bagnaia finally brings his game to Barcelona as MotoGP cooks the Med

Published On: 5/25/2024

‘Que Boigeria’! MotoGP encountered more craziness during round six of an unpredictable and captivating championship but, aside from the on-track fare that means Grand Prix is currently the hottest motorsport for action in the world, the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya was a crucible of redemption for reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia and his factory Ducati team.

In 2022 the Italian was smashed out of the Grand Prix on the first turn. In 2023 a second corner crash provided some of the most spectacular footage of the year; thankfully Bagnaia was not seriously injured and went on to secure a second title in a row. Unwanted airtime aside, the slippery turns of the 4.6km layout have been barren turf for the world champ. Pecco (a race winner in Moto3 and Moto2, and a title holder in the latter let’s not forget) has a phenomenal win record since the midway point of ‘22 in MotoGP but he has searched and been starved of a podium trophy his whole career at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. 

On Sunday, May 26th 2024, he was able to smile and say: 

“I closed the circle.”


In Catalunya the tradition of ‘Castellets’ involves spherical human ‘towers’ where associations or groups of people gather, stand on each other’s shoulders and try to reach new levels and heights. Competition is fierce between towns and clubs in festivals up and down the country. Catalans conglomerate for sport: in the case of the ‘castells’ then literally. When it comes to their football and their motorsport – and especially their motorcycle racing – then Spanish and Catalan passion flows as strong as the potent fuel through the prototype bikes themselves.

The Catalan Grand Prix has always carried a sun-kissed Mediterranean theme. The event is normally licked by early summer temps and with a slight taste of the nearby sea air, as well as the party vibe drifting over from the proximity of Barcelona itself. Monster Energy have tapped into this verve for a decade now and the 2024 running of the popular fixture again brought the thrills, and the thrall to MotoGP. The Monster Energy Compound housed DJ sets, the Freestyle displays and the rig riots; the fans brought the celebratory ambience. VIPs like Ricky Carmichael jetted in. The bike racers brought everything else.


On Saturday Bagnaia’s woeful trend looked to be heading for welcome oblivion when he comfortably led the Sprint. But a crash into the notoriously deceptive Turn 5 – a cambered left hander – meant the factory GP24 was again spiraling into the gravel for the third year in a row. “I was 100% focused. I know how to win. It was my kind of win because I was controlling everything perfectly,” he lamented to the media afterwards. “Argh! I stayed in the box for one hour to analyze everything because when you can’t understand properly why you crash [then] it is better to analyze everything, and it looks like slower entry with the same braking can make you crash! Normally, in normal conditions, it can’t happen. But here where the grip level is a disaster it can happen. So, analyze it, understand it and try to be more careful in these situations.”

Luckily, Pecco had another chance in the 24-lap main event on Sunday. On this occasion a medium rear tire choice was key. He let Jorge Martin and Pedro Acosta lay black trails in a dispute for the lead and then bided his time before quietening the Spanish fans to move into P1. That was that. Win #2 for the year. “I just waited a bit today and gained back the speed. I could make the difference on corner entry. It was a great pace,” he said.


“Yesterday I was very angry and very disappointed,” added Pecco, who is now 2nd in the championship standings behind Martin. “I was praying not to lose the front into Turn 5 again! I closed the circle in Barcelona.”

Elsewhere Ducati stablemate Fabio Di Giannantonio, guiding the 2023 version of Bagnaia’s machine rode to a season-best 5th, and three-time Grand Prix winner at Barcelona, Fabio Quartararo steered his slowly evolving Monster Energy Yamaha M1 to 9th. “A good race and better than we were expecting,” said the Frenchman. “Just five seconds from the top five…and we know what we are missing.”

More circles. More fate. And more rapidness. MotoGP ploughs ahead to the curvaceous curves of Mugello, draped over the hills of Tuscany and north of Florence for record 225mph top-speed disputes in a few day’s time.