Italy's two-wheeled world is in fine form, with the young guns chomping at the bit to fight alongside the seniors. The cherry on this year's cake was Morbidelli's title win, but Franco was not the only Italian to shine in Moto2 this season. As well as the championship win, there was also the best rookie title, awarded to Francesco Bagnaia, or Pecco as he's commonly known.
There is less talk of this result, but Pecco, originally from Turin and now residing in Pesaro (a member of Valentino's court) takes it on the chin, “seeing as Franco won, it's all good”.
You can have no regrets this year.
“It's been a great season, and I'm very happy. From mid-season on, I was able to be consistent, aside from a couple of races I was always inside the top ten and often in the top five. I have grown, as has the team, we've understood more and more and have become a strong unit”.
It was a double debut, in that it was also team Sky VR46's first year in Moto2.
“Yes, but despite it all, my goal was always to be the best rookie and be in the top ten. Some other strong riders moved to Moto2 with me, like Binder, and it was important for me to be ahead of them”.
You reached the podium four times, but missed out on a win. Was it possible do you think?
“I think I could have done it in at least a couple of races but we wasted those opportunities. It doesn't matter, it's only normal to make mistakes in your first year, otherwise it would have been just too perfect (he laughs)”.
What has been your biggest difficulty in Moto2?
“The bike is heavier, you need to find good balance and know how to manage it with a full tank. In Moto3 I was one of the fastest in the opening laps, while in Moto2 it's been the opposite. I'm faster in the second part of the race”.
Will you work on this?
“I definitely have room for improvement, but not as much as at first. now I know the bike and the last tests went well, but I have to improve at the start of the race and exploit the new tyres”.
Also because KTM seemed very strong in the last races.
“They will be fast, they have better traction than the Kalex, this is why they're so strong. We're working on this with Kalex and already made a step forward in testing”.
Who might be your successor as best rookie?
“Mir will be fast and part of the championship-winning team. After a learning phase, I think he'll be very fast in at least ten races”.
In 2016, in Moto3, you were an outsider with Mahindra, and again in 2017, as a rookie. Do you know feel like one of the favourites?
“I'm reading in the papers and on social media that I'm one of the favourites for next year (he laughs). There are many variables that can still change before the season begins, we need to wait until testing ends to have a better idea. So, for now, I prefer to retain the role of outsider (he laughs)”.
Are you not a little too diplomatic?
“I think the favourites are Alex Marquez, Oliveira and Pasini, but I'll have chance to run with them and score some good results. I'll be honest, I know that this will be my first opportunity to try and win and I want to exploit that fact”.
In the past, when you were racing with Mahindra for example, you haven't always had the best equipment…
“Yes, but being in that situation taught me something, I knew I always had to give it my all. I want to thank Mahindra and team Aspar because thanks to them I've become a different rider, they showed me that you must always work and give it your all. All of this helped me prepare for my first season in Moto2”.
And thanks to Aspar and Borsoi you also had chance to test the Ducati MotoGP…
“Those 7 laps are burned onto my brain and I can't wait to do it again”.
Are you saying that your 2019 goal is the reigning class?
“Definitely, but we need to see how things go. I hope to complete a great season, because I want to deserve a MotoGP, otherwise it would be wrong to go there”.
Do you feel ready for the big step up?
“I think it would be the right time. If I had had an offer for 2018 I wouldn't have been ready to manage the situation. But with another year of experience, yes”.