Lorenzo Baldassarri opened 2019 with a bang, triumphing in Losail in the first round of the season. A season that, for the middle category of the world championship, opens a new era, characterized by a new technical scheme that really reshuffled the cards on the table. "Balda" was able to interpret the new Triumph engine better than anyone else and, with his success during the first stage of the season, he nonchalantly positioned himself as a favorite for the title.
We met him at the Termas Paddock in Rio Hondo just before the start of the hostilities on the track. The best time to comment together on the victory in Losail and maybe take a look at the future. A future that is obviously called MotoGP, with the tried and true possibility of reaching Rossi, Morbidelli, and Bagnaia, the riders of the Academy who are already up there.
A great start of the season, a really great race. This bike seems built just for you.
"In my opinion, everyone likes the new bike. It's more fun to ride because it has more acceleration and torque, there's more engine. And it's also easier to ride. So, in my opinion, it wasn't this that helped me in the first race. But I don't deny that I really like the new bike. I think it's really cool."
So you don't think this new configuration gave you an extra boost?
"Actually, I had become accustomed enough to Honda, to the engine, and I think that bike was a bit more difficult. It wasn't more difficult to learn to ride it, but riding it really fast, yes."
Do you feel you're the number 1 candidate for the title? And, above all, a title here to then move on to the MotoGP?
"I think we have a good chance this year. We must be aware that we can fight for the title, that we can always be competitive, race after race, and always race for the podium. Then, the MotoGP dream is always there. I've always thought of it."
Last year, you came close. Quartararo's place seemed like it could have been yours. Were you upset that it didn't happen?
"I wasn't thinking much about it, even though I knew the rumors. Not having thought about it, I didn't feel bad when the chance faded away. Even my manager told me that there was still nothing concrete, so I had no reason to be upset. Then I had another year with my contract with Pons. I had no worries in view of the future."
By now, the Academy is emptying into the Paddock, from Moto3 to MotoGP. Would you have imagined a similar growth?
"The Academy is a great fortune for us, a great opportunity. I honestly didn't think it would grow so much, that so many riders would have come so far. For me, it was pretty cool to think I had Vale always close, and I knew I could grow a lot with him. The Academy has grown a great deal, and I believe that this is the result of the great work of people who leave nothing to chance, who commit themselves to seeing to every detail in order to grow."
Is racing against Valentino in MotoGP a dream or something real and feasible?
"I see it as a wonderful dream. For me, it would be the dream of dreams. Racing with Vale before he stops would be great. I've thought about it many times. I don't know how I would behave in a melee on the track. I don't know if I would be able to break away in a risky overtake. Maybe I would think about it a second. But on the track, things are different. Right now, I might tell you I'd be careful but, like all riders, once I'm on the track, I become another person, so I don't know how it would go..."