Francesco Bagnaia looked set to turn a debut MotoGP front row into a first podium, only to be cruelly denied by an engine failure late in the Andalucia Grand Prix.

Seventh during last weekend's season-opener, the Pramac Ducati rider was one of the main improvers during the second Jerez event.

"Last year one problem was braking for me. Last weekend I was stronger, but I ran very wide so many times," he explained. "So this weekend we worked well and I was stopping the bike more in the first part of the braking. And also, for the acceleration, I am trying to not make the rear tyre spin."

After qualifying alongside the Yamahas of Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales, Bagnaia initially dropped to sixth in the opening laps of the race.

Soon realising he was 'stronger' than those ahead of him, the Italian fought his way forwards past Takaaki Nakagami, team-mate Jack Miller, Vinales and finally VR46 mentor Valentino Rossi to hold second behind Quartararo by lap 12 of 25.

Bagnaia then pulled some ground on the trio of Yamahas behind and looked destined to climb the rostrum for the first time in the premier-class - until his GP20 began making 'smoke signals' with six laps to go.

"I saw I was faster than the riders in front of me, so I just tried to be calm at the start, and when I started seeing that the other riders were struggling, I tried to overtake them," Pecco said. "When I overtook them, with my pace I was starting to open a gap and then I had the failure. So I'm a little bit sad about that, but looking at our weekend, I'm happy with the work done.

"The engine problem, I don't know what happened. We have to give my engine to Ducati to see what really happened. I had started feeling the bike was going a little bit slower. And then I saw that it was smoking. So Race Direction gave me the black and orange flag and I had to stop. I saw the black and orange flag on the dashboard.

"The important thing now will be to be fast and strong again like this weekend. I'm just thinking about that," he added. "Next will arrive Brno and then two races in Austria, so three great races for us. I just want to try to repeat this weekend. Let's see what happens there, but I'm really sure that if we work like this weekend, we can fight."

In contrast to Bagnaia's rising form, fellow GP20 riders Miller, Dovizioso and Petrucci had a tougher time than at round one. Miller and Petrucci crashed out, while Dovizioso recovered from 14th on the grid to sixth, having finished third a week before.

"Everything came more easily for me this weekend because we are working more on the pace," Bagnaia said. "I saw the other Ducatis were struggling, but for sure a weekend like this [for me] can help the other Ducatis also. I think that in Brno also Dovi, Petrux and Jack can be fast like at other weekends."

 

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