While the World Championship riders are returning from Austin, with the exception of Aprilia, the test riders for several teams are in Mugello today trying out the track. Among these was Michele Pirro, in action with the GP19. This was the occasion to try out several new things in view of the upcoming World Championship races that will resume in May in Jerez.
"Actually, we were lucky today. The weather was good. It was 20 degrees," began the test rider from Puglia. "We were working on different areas, such as the frame and electronics, with the objective of improving in the bends, given that we're still struggling a bit in entering. Trying out the GP19 at Mugello is interesting, since we've won here in the past few years. It's precisely because of this that it's not so obvious that things always go the right way. We got back on the track. The feedback was positive, since the progress made didn't compromise what was done in the past. Obviously, the competition has gotten closer, and that's why we can't lower our guard."
You were not alone in on the action on the track in Tuscany, right?
"Exactly. Today KTM with Mika Kallio and Yamaha with Folger were there and, as you could see, it created a test team for Europe, as well, putting itself in Jonas' hands."
Michele, let's talk about the Superbike. At EICMA, you told us that the V4 would be surprising and, in the end, you weren't wrong.
“In realtà l’avevo già detto a Gigi a luglio dello scorso anno, in occasione del WDW, gli dissi che secondo me un pilota della MotoGP poteva sfruttare il potenziale della V4. Vincere con questa superiorità non era scontato, ma in quell’occasione avevo notato che rispetto alla V2 questa moto aveva una guida simile alla GP. Inoltre le Pirelli sono più facili come gomme rispetto alle Michelin e Alvaro, essendo un pilota leggero, è riuscito a sfruttare il tutto nel modo migliore. Oltre a quello, avevo manifestato a Gigi la volontà di correre io con quella moto”.
Non sarebbe stato male.
“Io ho detto a Gigi di puntare su di me, ma se non fosse stato della stessa idea, avrebbe dovuto puntare su Bautista, dato che aveva il talento per ottenere certi risultati. Avendo poi guidato la Ducati in MotoGP ed essendo quella moto figlia dello stesso sviluppo, il binomio sarebbe stato perfetto”.
Quando cambia rispetto alla Panigale che utilizzi nel CIV?
“Actually, I had already told Gigi last July, during the WDW. I told him that I think a MotoGP rider could take advantage of the V4's potential. Winning with this superiority couldn't be taken for granted but, on that occasion, I noticed that, compared to the V2, this bike's riding style was similar to the GP's. In addition, the Pirelli tires are easier as compared to the Michelin tires and, Alvaro, being a light rider, managed to take advantage of everything in the best way. Besides that, I had expressed to Gigi the will to race with that bike."
It wouldn't have been a bad thing.
"I told Gigi to bet on me but, if he wasn't of the same idea, he should have bet on Bautista, since he had the talent to achieve certain results. Having ridden the Ducati in MotoGP, and since that bike was developed the same way, the combination would have been perfect."
What's the difference with respect to the Panigale you use in the CIV?
"Actually, it's not the same, but similar. Let's say that the bike I use in the CIV is a dealer,'s bike, since the regulation of the Italian Championship, unlike that of the SBK World Championship, doesn't allow you to make changes. It's a Stock bike, while the World Championship one has several differences, like between Davies' and Melandri's V2 last year and the one I used to use. Under some aspects, however, such as electronics, there are some things in common with MotoGP.”
Meanwhile, tomorrow you're back on the track again at Mugello. What's the program?
"We'll try the fork, then the knife, so we'll have a complete set of cutlery,” he said jokingly. “What's interesting is that, in all these years, I closely followed Ducati's various evolutions, and I think back to when we were the ones who had to copy others. But now, things are the opposite."
One last thing. What do you think of Miller ahead of Dovi in Austin?
"Saturday's qualifying session certainly complicated Andrea's weekend. Given his performance in the race, he could have been on that podium or at least fight for the first two. In the end, however, we managed to be competitive. In fact, his pace wasn't bad in the last eight laps. This means that we got it."
Audio recorded by Paolo Scalera
Photo credit: Antonio D’Alterio (Instagram)