Pecco Bagnaia will miss the race at the Red Bull Ring and a result it will be up to Michele Pirro to replace his compatriot on the Pramac team's Ducati. In a season in which wildcards are not allowed, Pirro will still get the opportunity to make two MotoGP appearances.
A few hours before his departure for Austria we grabbed him by phone for his feelings, but above all about this Ducati which is struggling a lot in comparison with Yamaha and now KTM as well.
"I am so sorry about Pecco's injury, which came at an important moment in his adventure with Ducati, but I expect him back on the track soon,” declared Pirro. “I will go to Austria to try and do my best, but above all to try and understand the current situation regarding the tyres that we are talking about so much. "
Michele, before talking about the tyres, have you seen the weather? Rain is expected. Maybe it can come out on a weekend like Valencia when you finished fourth…
“Hopefully (he smiles)! Races in the rain are still a question mark for everyone. It doesn't take much to make a mistake and end up on the ground ”.
You mentioned the tyres. Why is the Ducati struggling so much? Or rather, why are the factory bikes suffering in this way?
“The question is very simple; it is as if we were facing a change of tyres from Bridgestone to Michelin. Only in this case it is the same supplier, namely Michelin with Michelin. Unfortunately, the new tyre changes the dynamics of the bike and there is nothing doing. Then there is another aspect ".
“After the lockdown, KTM tested three days in Misano, six in Brno and the same number at the Red Bull Ring and it is normal for them to have an advantage. I lapped only one day in Misano. Among other things, if we consider the last race, the fact of how much the tyre affects is clear, given that between the best lap and the worst there are three seconds of difference, while in a classic context only half a second. By virtue of these numbers we have already given ourselves all the answers ".
Zarco, however, took his Ducati to the podium on Sunday.
“Sure, he was good! However, Zarco has never ridden the Ducati before this year, unlike a rider like Dovi who has his own history with the Desmosedici behind him. It is therefore normal that Andrea was wrong-footed, while Johann finds it easier starting from scratch with a new bike ”.
And Bagnaia instead? Without the Jerez 2 problem, he too would have been on the podium…
“You are also right on this point! In the previous season Pecco suffered a lot from grip, but he only rode the Ducati for one year. For a rider like Dovi, who has been riding the bike for many years with a certain approach, it is more complicated to make him change his style than a young guy like Pecco. Unfortunately, we as Ducati did not have time to intervene and make changes on the bike regarding these tyres. But apart from that, it was clear from the first Sepang test that the bikes with four cylinders in line like Yamaha and Suzuki were favoured with the current Michelins ”.
In the Losail tests, however, Ducati seemed to have found the right path…
"In Qatar we were all more or less on the same level, but now KTM comes to the races with a 15-day advantage because it has carried out the tests".
In this situation, what can a test rider like Michele Pirro do? In the end, you are the only one who can lap with the bike outside of races…
"I can put all my effort into it and that's what I will do. The fact is that KTM, every time it goes out, takes to the track with 4-5 bikes. They therefore have the opportunity to feel much more than me being alone. Certainly, we must try to resolve the situation, even if inside of me I know that we will succeed, given that we have the potential ”.
At this point, do you think Dovi should forget the style he has used in recent years at Ducati?
“Andrea must certainly not forget how to ride the Ducati, if anything, it's up to us to help him by changing the geometry of the bike. He will have to take a step and the same goes for Ducati towards him. We certainly cannot afford to leave him alone at this moment ”.
The fact is that time is pressing…
“In Austria KTM will certainly be the favourite, given that they have done six days of testing. We will have to work and be strong ”.
Michele, I don't want to rub salt into the wounds, but Marquez understood these tyres by making the various comparisons between the old and new Honda at Losail.
"What are we talking about? Marc is a phenomenon. But I want to ask you a question without wanting to be provocative: where are all the other Hondas? ”.
"That’s what I mean… Having said that, Ducati will be doing a test at Misano after the second race and I will try to do something to solve the problem and look for a solution ”.
Michele, after what has been seen in recent years, Ducati and Dovizioso's season cannot be compromised after just three races…
“No, it’s not over yet! I think that in Austria we will be competitive and fighting for the championship again. It won’t be easy, but at the same time every time we have found obstacles, we have always overcome them together and with hard work. In the Misano tests last June, the bike did not behave badly and on the track, there were also the KTMs, which certainly did not outclass us. In Brno, only the tyres made the difference. "
At this point, who is the favourite for the title?
"Quartararo is the best candidate, but in Austria we are obliged to pull two good races out of the hat."