Bagnaia apologises for last-lap Motegi crash

Francesco Bagnaia apologised to his team after a last-lap crash at the Grand Prix of Japan struck a blow to his MotoGP title hopes.

The Italian was going all out to try and pass championship leader Fabio Quartararo in Motegi on Sunday, but found himself in the gravel following a costly mistake.

Quartararo finished eighth, extending his lead over Bagnaia to 18 points with four rounds to go following a race that was won by Jack Miller.

Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi revealed Bagnaia was quick to hold his hands up for his error.

"He has already said that he's sorry for the mistake he made," Tardozzi told BT Sport.

"He was not able to accelerate out of the corner like the other Ducatis. We need to know why. His front tyre overheated so he could not brake hard.

"When it cooled down he was able to recover and gain something on the brakes."

Tardozzi says Bagnaia needed to think of the bigger picture.

"Yes. The goal was obvious." he added.

"You start the year trying to win as many races as possible. But at a certain point you have to think about the championship.

"You look to [the other] contender. Since Aragon, we look to Fabio every week. Losing two points is better than losing eight points."

Fellow title contender Aleix Espargaro also endured a nightmare, starting from the pits rather than sixth place as he had to change his bike before the start due to a technical issue and finished way back in 16th.

Espargaro said: "They made a mistake, and they didn't remove the fuel-saving map which doesn't allow you to go over 4-5,000 RPM or more than 100k per hour.

"I tried everything, but it was not working."

He added: "I changed bikes in the pits, but the second bike had the soft rear tyre [instead of the medium] and I can't ride with that tyre.

"I knew it from the beginning. The bike was just pushing the front. I was also very nervous and making a lot of mistakes, so I decided to stay out on track just to wait for a red flag or whatever. But it didn't arrive."