The MotoGP season kicked off in Qatar two weeks ago. How did Italy’s Pecco Bagnaia perform in his first season in the premier class?
I think we can say the season was not up to the expectations of me or the team but I certainly got the chance to race hard and develop. And maybe start some new things, such as the bike balance in front of the rider, and to develop some new methods, such as the new grip system and the rear ring around the rear tyre.
But I am not disappointed with my first season in MotoGP. I achieved my goal of qualifying for the top 15 and then for sure the success at the end of the season would mean that it was a great season.
You qualified 18th and then on a few occasions came up against the Ducati riders Lorenzo and Jorge Lorenzo. Do you think they are in better form at the moment?
Yeah, it will be easier for me to win in Italy than at the moment. But I am not sure if they are racing against better opposition than they were last year when they won the championship together. They now have someone with different driving style and it will take some time for him to get used to the bike, and thus to the set-up, of Ducati. But the championship is never easy.
Who are the other new riders out there? How do you rate everyone’s chances of a spot in the top four for the team next year?
The best point for me in the points would be finishing outside the top four. I have fought all the way to QZ but only to Q4, 14th place, so I have learned that you must keep working, to try for more, to give as much in practice as you can, for as long as possible and when it is the right time to try to secure those points. In racing, like in all walks of life, you must plan a different result from what is possible in practice. And now we know that the motorcycle system is a little bit different – with the new engine, with the new pressure, with new clutch system, with new nuts and threads. So, while doing our work, preparing for the championship, we must not expect the best results from the beginning.
You mentioned new developments to your bike. Can you tell us about that, and how you think you can do it in future?
Sure, it is possible, if the bike was not too big, but now it is much, much bigger and, sometimes, difficult to adjust. It is now up to the team to develop new measures to reduce the weight. You need to adapt to the bike and to the control of the bike, especially in qualifying. It’s only the third year of MotoGP, but already it is the third generation of bike and we are in the middle of the evolution.
Are you happy with what it takes to be a successful team rider?
It’s not so easy. What we had to do at the beginning, of course, was not really possible – but I have been in motorsport 30 years, since I was 10 years old, so it is not the first time it has happened. A rider today has to go forward very fast with all this speed, with the aerodynamics, the motorbrakes and everything. It’s not easy. I think that in MotoGP, if you are not fast and competitive now, it will only get worse – and especially after this first season.
Read more at the Ducati website.