Mapfre Team Mahindra rider Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia claimed his best finish of the year so far, after a surging charge from the sixth row of the grid to a whisker-close seventh place in today’s Spanish GP, fighting to the end and narrowly losing sixth place on the final hairpin.
Team-mate Jorge Martin made it two Mahindras in the points as he claimed 14th place, also the GP rookie’s best result so far, as the European season begins following three “flyaway” races.
Bagnaia’s pace was good enough to match the leading group of five riders, but his starting position from 16th place, in the middle of row six, meant that by the time he had fought his way to the front of his group the leaders were out of reach.
It proved not only the 18-year-old Italian’s ability, but also that of the completely redesigned 2015 version of the Mahindra MGP3O machine. The need now is to focus on better qualifying results, to capitalise on the obvious technical progress.
Mahindra’s young guns also made progress. The only Indian machines in World Championship racing took from 18th to 20th places, with new boy Stefano Manzi sandwiched between the more experienced Matteo Ferrari and Juanfran Guevara.
The other three rookies – Tatsuki Suzuki, Darryn Binder and Remy Gardner – claimed 23rd, 24th and 25th places respectively.
The race, over 23 laps of the 4.423-km Jerez circuit, was won by championship leader Danny Kent (Honda), at the head of a five-bike leading gang.
The next round is the French GP at Le Mans in two weeks.
PECCO BAGNAIA – Seventh place
That was a really enjoyable race, because I was fighting all the way with (Romano) Fenati and (Jorge) Navarro. In the last lap I tried to pass Fenati, and I got ahead, but in the last corner I made a little mistake, and finished seventh behind him. It was good for us because we started from 16th. Tomorrow in the test we have something to try to improve straight-line speed. We need to qualify better, because from row six it is difficult to overtake a lot of riders. If we start better, we can stay in the front, I think.”
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO, Mahindra Racing
We should have been further forward on the grid. It is really important now to focus on qualifying. Today showed how you can get stuck. Pecco had the pace of the front runners throughout the race, but unfortunately he was in the wrong group. We are happy for Jorge Martin, who again scored points. The target for him is to keep adding to his score, and improve as the season progresses.