It was the end of June, the world championship was stopped for Covid and nobody knew what would happen. Luca Marini was on the roads of Il Ciocco at the wheel of a Hyundai rally car. There was talk of his future and his (actually scarce) chances of moving to MotoGP in 2021. “There could be surprises from here to Valencia” he told us and we didn't completely believe him. Instead he was right, next year he will be in the premier class, on the Ducati of the Avintia team. And the announcement came right in Valencia.
Where Luca is for the Grand Prix. It is evening and he is having dinner after the last meeting with his team. We remind him of that exchange.
“See, I was right. I really believed it, you never know what will happen” he gloated.
How did you react when they told you it was a done thing?
"I didn't find out many days ago. I was over the moon when I received confirmation. I thank Ducati for this opportunity, it's a good project and I hope to make a good MotoGP journey with them. I like Ducati and its working method, it's the manufacturer who works most of all. They always bring new inventions to the track and then they are copied by everyone ”.
"I haven't talked to Valentino yet, with him the dream of MotoGP is even better"
Have you already talked about it with Valentino?
"No, because he was at home in solitary confinement and I couldn't see him."
Didn't you call him?
“I'm not very good with phones (laughs). Racing in MotoGP has always been my dream and doing it with him is even better "
Ok, racing in MotoGP with your brother Valentino has always been a dream of yours, but did you think you could make it happen?
“When I was little I wouldn't have even thought about it, but growing up I always said I hoped he would extend his contracts and I would go as fast as possible to be able to race together and we both did. He will race for at least another season, I hope more, I did well in Moto2 and it happened. It's nice, I still have to get used to it, I have to internalize this thing ”.
Do you think your relationship will somehow change?
“I think the relationship between the riders really changes only if you are fighting for the win. If you fight for the positions further back they are all friends, the problems come when you fight for something bigger, there everyone thinks for himself and that's right, it's the sport".
Have you already put Bagnaia under pressure to find out more?
“As I always do, even before I knew I would move to MotoGP. I'm curious, it's a world that fascinates me and I want to know all the backstories it hides, in the end we see very little on TV ”.
"Pablo Nieto and two technicians will follow me in the Avintia team"
Both Sky and VR46 will follow you in MotoGP, will you also bring people from your team?
“Christian Dionigi and Gianluca Falconi will come, as well as Pablo Nieto (who will follow Luca's sports management together with Ruben Xaus, Ed.). I have relied on those who work with me in VR46 to find the best possible solution. I talked to Ducati and even the technical part seems good to me, I just have to give 100% in Moto2 and from Monday after the Portimao GP I'll start thinking about next year ”.
Had the uncertainty about your future destabilized you in the last few races?
“No, I'm a cold guy, plus I knew that if I didn't go to MotoGP I would have stayed in Moto2 in the Sky team, where I've always felt good. I wasn't worried, I just felt ready for this leap and it's nice to be able to do it next year and with Ducati ”.
So you have no doubts about this step?
"Mine was a somewhat particular path because I entered the World Championship directly in Moto2 and I was a bit disadvantaged, because Moto3 is a category that trains the rider a lot and makes you understand many things about the world championship. Instead, I came from the Moto2 European championship, which was unfortunately at a very low level, and it took me a few years to adapt. In 2016 in the World Championship there were Morbidelli, Zarco, Lowes, Rins, it was the year with the biggest names and the level was crazy, they were awesome. It took me some time, then when I was ready at the end of 2018 and understood the bike, they changed the engine and tyres and I had to start from scratch, like all the other riders. Now I am back to 100% and feel I have learned everything I could learn from this category and am ready for the leap. I know that MotoGP is another planet, there will be work to do and I want to take things calmly ”.
"I'll ask Bagnaia to explain as much as possible, but also Valentino and Morbidelli"
Will the other riders of the Academy be able to help you?
“First of all I want to have Pecco explain as much as possible, because he rides the Ducati, then Valentino, Franco and of course Dall'Igna and all the engineers who will work with me ".
Unfortunately, before getting on the Desmosedici you will have to wait until February, because there will be no November tests.
"I will spend the winter waiting for that moment, I hope to have other positive thoughts that will come from Moto2".
What is the thing or the rider that intrigues you to see the most in MotoGP?
"I'm very focused on Moto2, I'll have all winter to think about these things. I have this spirit ”.
"I hadn’t become dumb all of a sudden, the chassis was damaged and we didn't notice it"
So let's talk about Moto2, how do you see this season finale?
“Unfortunately in the crash at Le Mans, in addition to being injured, I also damaged the chassis and we only noticed this in the second Aragon Grand Prix, on Saturday. So I ran two races with the frame a bit bent, in fact I didn't have confidence in the rear wheel. We had modified the whole bike but the problems remained the same, until I said: it's impossible for me to struggle so hard and we can't fix the bike anymore. So we changed everything and the bike started working again, but we were late with the work and in the second race at Aragon I struggled. Here in Valencia the weather conditions didn't help and now I'm trying to recover those sensations I had on the bike all season, I'm sure they will be back soon ”.
Physically how are you?
"I still have some discomfort in my ankle, the one I injured at Le Mans. I crashed in practice and hit the same spot again but now it's better ”.
"Lowes is in a magic bubble, Bastianini and I have to burst it"
Let's talk about your opponents…
“Lowes is like he was in a magic bubble, Enea, Bezzecchi and I have to be good at making him burst this bubble so everything is fine for him. He is very difficult to beat because he has a very particular riding style and an equally particular bike that works with him. You can't copy his trajectories, he makes great use of cornering, even Enea has that style, but Lowes takes it to extremes. "
Then there is Bastianini.
“He's awesome, in the race he is always tonic, you never understand how he works at the weekend, he seems to hide, even if I don't think he does. I expected him to go strong, he is in a good team and Giovanni Sandi has a lot of experience. It is a fight between riders but also between teams. Too bad about the last few races, luckily we discovered the problem, it seemed like I had become dumb all of a sudden (laughs). There are still three races left to go back to riding as I used to ”.
Are you happy to have Enea as your teammate in MotoGP?
“I am very happy. When you are a rookie there are two good possibilities: having an experienced teammate to learn from, but in MotoGP you can also look at the data of other riders, or another rookie to encourage each other and raise your level. I have a good relationship with Enea and then it's nice to be two Italians ”.