The Italian now leads the standings by 14 points for the first time in his MotoGP career after finishing third at Phillip Island on Sunday to capitalize on a disastrous day for his title rivals.

Former leader of the championship Fabio Quartararo crashed, while the Aprilia Aleix Espargaro at Phillip Island could only climb to ninth to fall 27 points behind in third.

Banya can win next week’s championship in Sepang if he beats Quartararo by 11 points, but insists he will not go to Malaysia with his title match point on his mind because “if I start thinking about pressure, I will put pressure on himself”.

“It’s definitely going to be very important,” he said of next week’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

“But I’ll just try to do the same thing we’ve been doing since the summer break.

“I’m just thinking session by session, working well and preparing for the race, and then I’ll see if I can get the crown there.

“But just be smart, take care of everything because it will be important to finish the race and be ahead.

“Honestly, if I start thinking about pressure, I will put pressure on myself.

“So I won’t think about it. I’ll just take it easy and spend the weekend like I’ve always done in the past in this championship. So being smart will probably be the key.”

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo: Gold and Goose / Images of motor sports

Bagnaia says that after he learned that Quartararo had crashed out of the Phillip Island race, he decided to take less risks in his fight for victory, and the Ducati rider did not take issue with the eventual winner Alex Rins and Honda Mark Marquez overtook him on the last lap.

“My goal today was to win to be further ahead in the championship,” Banya added.

“When I was leading I saw that Fabio was on my pit board.

“So I was just trying to be smart and push because when I was in front I was just trying to push for a few laps.

“But then I saw that my rear tire started to go down a bit more, so it was very difficult to make a gap today.

“Then on the last lap, when they both passed me at the second turn, I said, ‘OK, if I see an opportunity, I’ll take it, but I don’t want to take any chances,’ because it was very easy to make a mistake today.”

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