Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia says he didn’t want to race at Mugello following Jason Dupasquier’s passing, and “can’t accept” that the Italian GP happened.
Dupasquier’s passing was announced on Sunday, following a crash in Moto3 qualifying the day before.
Bagnaia started the Italian GP from second place, and went into the lead at the start, but then crashed out on the second lap.
While he didn’t attribute the crash to the news of Dupasquier’s loss – and, in fact, requested that he doesn’t talk about his race at all in the post-race media debrief – Bagnaia did admit he was finding it “impossible” to concentrate on riding.
“I’ve seen the news of Jason during the final part of Moto3[‘s race], before the start of Moto2. From that moment I start thinking just on the race but was impossible.
“I was close to be concentrate but then one minutes of silence [before the MotoGP race], and … nothing. It was impossible to concentrate.
“I started well, I was in front… but in any case, finish first or last today, nothing changes.
“It’s maybe one of the worst days of my life, I didn’t enjoy today anything, so for me … I have asked to not race today, because it was not correct, for me.”
Bagnaia agreed it was “quite difficult to manage a situation like this” from the organisational point of view, but reiterated that he did not feel it was right to race – while also echoing Danilo Petrucci’s sentiment that the situation would’ve been handled differently if it were a MotoGP rider who had been lost.
“Doesn’t matter if I crashed,” he said. “I’m just thinking of him, on his family. We lost a 19-year-old rider.
“This is very difficult to accept, and very difficult to accept the decision of someone to let us race today.”
The Race contacted MotoGP promoter Dorna to ask whether it had consulted the Dupasquier family or the other grand prix riders about whether to continue with the event, and was told only that the organisation had been “in touch” with Dupasquier’s family and team since Saturday.
“After the news, I said to my team, to Davide [Tardozzi, Ducati MotoGP manager], that I was preferring to not race today,” Bagnaia said. “But this is our work and we have to do it.
“But in condition like this, it’s really difficult I think. Already in 2016, when we lost Luis [Salom], I was in the same situation. We did one minute of silence, and I was in the same situation.
“Today was very difficult doing the minute of silence, to not let the tears come down.”
MotoGP riders’ opinion on whether it was right to hold the race was divided, with both Fabio Quartararo and Miguel Oliveira arguing in the post-race press conference that it was the right way to pay tribute.
Bagnaia’s team-mate Jack Miller – who, like everyone, was deeply shaken by Depasquier’s loss and hit out at a local news station’s late-Saturday coverage of the accident – said his opinion was sought by Dorna’s Carlos Ezpeleta over the timing of the one-minute silence.
But when asked whether riders should’ve been consulted over whether the race should go ahead, he said: “I think there’s nobody with a gun to your head. At the end of the day, if you want to race, you can race. I think the fact that they put the show on for us and let us continue the one thing we love, it’s massive from them.”
Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro – who admitted he was “very sad” and struggling to concentrate – said he saw both sides of the argument.
“I was very sad, sincerely. There are a lot of riders that are maybe hurt less by these things – I’m not saying they are not humans as I feel I am, I’m not saying this, but for other ones they can forget this better,” he said.
“But for me, maybe because I’m a father, maybe because I have a brother [Pol] racing here… but sincerely for me every time this happens it’s very difficult, very very difficult.
“I did 300 races in the MotoGP world championship, so for me if we pay more tribute by not racing, I will not be against, for sure. But you have to understand also that, I mean it’s difficult to say, but there’s a lot of people working here, a lot of money, there are a lot of things, so it’s not that easy to cancel one race.
“So I can understand both sides.”