The balance of this final part of the 2020 season is definitely in red for Pecco Bagnaia. Unfortunately, it is not the Ducati red that he will take on the track in his role as factory rider from 2021, but rather the red represented by a triple zero that must be mended in some way.
One of the great qualities that has always distinguished the Turin rider is consistency and paradoxically it is precisely this that has been missing the most in this crazy 2020, in which Bagnaia also had to deal with an injury that kept him off the bike for three races. The last two rounds of the season represent from a certain point of view a virtual springboard towards a 2021 in which great things are expected from Bagnaia on the official Ducati. The rider is well aware of this and has no intention of shutting up shop with the knowledge that he has a contract signed months ago. His transition towards 2021 must be different than that…
Bagnaia's first words in the meeting with journalists were however for Andrea Iannone, who was disqualified for doping for four years after the CAS sentence. A dark chapter for our sport, as Bagnaia defines it…
"It is very difficult to express an opinion, none of us know for sure what happened - commented Bagnaia - undoubtedly four years of disqualification are a lot, they are excessive. But there must be a reason. I don't know what could have happened, but it is certainly a great pity. Andrea is a presence in the world championship that we needed. One of the strongest Italian riders, he has always been very fast. He has always shown that he is very competitive and good at working. He was also becoming very fast with Aprilia, at Phillip Island had gone very fast and in my opinion this year he would have gone faster with the new bike. A shame, a dark chapter in our sport, for sure. But in the end it is hard to say something, we don't know how things are, it’s difficult to draw a conclusion. It seems that the meat was eaten in Malaysia, in a hotel where almost all of us go. I don't know how this can happen, but certainly when you cook a chicken you see a lot of that stuff that comes out that it makes you wonder. I think you risk this everywhere, he was really unlucky and it's a shame."
Going back to you, what approach will you have in this race weekend after three zeros?
"I have nothing to lose, I just have something to prove - explained a determined Bagnaia - I will try to have a similar approach to the one I had in Misano or Jerez, where I went fast. I want to start immediately working for the race. We will probably be already very fast on the pace on Friday. We will try to enter Q2 only on Saturday morning and if everything goes as it should go, and as it was going on Sunday, we can have a good race. "
Bagnaia: "Last week I made a mistake but I was as fast as Rins"
The mistake in the first laps on Sunday cost you dearly, but you have said several times that you had good sensations…
"In my opinion start of the race I did gives me confidence, because for several races I didn’t have the same sensations with my bike, while on Sunday I found them again. Starting from the back I was forced to push perhaps over the limit and I crashed. But with the ease with which I did those lap times, I think I could have kept a pace similar to the two Suzukis. It was my mistake, but at least I had high potential. I got too excited on Sunday, when I saw that I was lapping as fast as Rins and Mir I had an extra boost of confidence. Maybe too much! ".
Bagnaia: "Ducati must find a solution for the temperature of the front tyre"
So you think you've moved on after a bit of a dark period?
"The important thing would be to rediscover the sensations of the first races, which I felt I had lost. Now I feel I have found those sensations, but I think that for the future the thing I would like to have 'help' from Ducati is in warming up the front tyre. For next year I would like to have something that helps us in this respect, when it's cold I suffer a lot and we will have cold races, so this is an area where I would like things to improve. I asked Ducati to help me to quickly find good sensations in the early laps ".
Bagnaia: "Luca Marini's riding style is even more suited to the Ducati than mine"
A lot of rookies will arrive at Ducati in 2021. MotoGP is making way for young guys…
"I think Ducati will have the best possible line-up in 2021. There are rookies and young but experienced riders. There will also be another rider from the Academy, so I can talk to someone else about my bike. I think they will all be fast, I hope I can help Luca Marini adapt quickly to the Ducati, but I think his riding style is even more suited to this bike than mine. I had to work a lot, but in my opinion he is already closer to what is needed. Let’s see how the first tests will go, but I think Bastianini and Martin will be very fast too. We already know Zarco and he will be of great help for us in the official team as well. "
2019 and 2020 have taught you a lot and you will soon join the official Ducati team. What are you still missing?
"I learned a lot in 2019, this year I thought everything was ok after the Jerez rounds, but then I got hurt. I came back at Misano and immediately I was fast, but I know I still have to learn a lot about this bike. Sometimes I'm very fast, other times I'm slow like at Aragon, where I struggled to do anything. I'm calm though, because at Valencia in the race I felt fast again and I know I can fight at the top. I know that next year I won't have to make some mistakes I made this year and I'm working hard to make it happen ".