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No visa delays in India MotoGP are ‘first win’, says Bagnaia

Ducati Lenovo Team's Italian rider Francesco Bagnaia. Photo: Money Sharma / AFP

World champion Francesco Bagnaia on Thursday lauded his manager for a timely arrival at India’s first MotoGP – unlike the visa issues faced by other riders.

The debut race in the world’s most populous country witnessed teething problems when some MotoGP personnel and riders had problems getting visas.

“I did not have any problems with the delay of the visa, so that was a first win,” Bagnaia, also known as “Pecco”, told reporters.

“Our logistics manager did an incredible job.”

The race at the Buddh International Circuit is the first MotoGP spectacle in India.

Italy’s Bagnaia, on a factory Ducati, and previous race winner Jorge Martin are among the world’s top riders set to compete on a track on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi that once hosted Formula One.

Bagnaia leads the championship, ahead of Martin by 36 points.

He finished third behind Marco Bezzecchi and winner Martin at Misano earlier this month.

But Bagnaia’s effort won praise after he suffered a horror crash at Catalunya and went into the previous event on painkillers.

Bagnaia said he is “a lot better” than what he felt at the last race.

‘Interesting and different’

Honda rider Marc Marquez arrived in Delhi on Thursday after visa trouble, which the organisers called a “technical glitch”.

But the six-time MotoGP world champion played down the impact of his late arrival.

“No change (in my plan or strategy),” said Marquez, who now has a bright new helmet with Indian colours. “I have to think that I have arrived in normal time.”

A bike or a scooter is the preferred mode of transport for many Indians, and the roads are full of them.

It was a sight MotoGP riders could not escape.

“Considering the amount of bikes we see on the streets, it’s incredible that we don’t have any Indian riders (in the MotoGP),” said Bagnaia.

“So maybe it’s (the MotoGP India debut) also something that will push someone to arrive in the world championship — an Indian rider.”

There have been some concerns raised about the safety of the track, which hosted F1 races for three years till 2013, with particular fears about the walls that are too close to the asphalt.

But the riders were looking forward to the challenge of a new track.

Bagnaia said, “the track is interesting and different”, while Martin “liked the layout”.

The action starts on Friday with practice, followed by a qualifying and a sprint race on Saturday and the race on Sunday.

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