Pecco Bagnaia discovered today what it means to ride a MotoGP bike in the wet. It might seem paradoxical, but in fact today for Bagnaia was the first time he experienced riding his Ducati in completely wet asphalt conditions, those present in FP1 this morning. Overall, the morning session went well, with the future Ducati factory rider able to finish in 11th position.
In the afternoon, however, things went a little differently. The rain had stopped, allowing the Le Mans asphalt to dry out and above all creating the conditions for Jack Miller, Bagnaia’s present and future teammate to emerge in these mixed conditions. FP2 was a perfect scenario for the Australian, but very difficult for Bagnaia who finished 15th in the combined standings, more than 1.5 seconds behind Miller.
"I wouldn't say I'm in trouble - Bagnaia wanted to reassure us - actually today was the first time I’ve ridden a MotoGP bike in the wet. This morning I finished 11th ahead of other riders who were rookies with me in 2019. I must say that on the wet I didn't feel bad. Today I was on track to adapt to the conditions, I did 20 laps in a row in quite difficult conditions that didn't even cause me to risk too much, so that's okay. The bike was working well and I was fine, I don't think I'm in difficulty ".
But what do you take home after a day like this, given that tomorrow and Sunday there should be better weather?
"I would say that you hardly take anything home on a day like this. The conditions were strange and above all they should not be the same in the next few days. But it was important to ride in the wet to gain experience. The sensations were very good; before I stopped in the pits after the first run we were first, second and third with the Ducati. Then on the MotoGP bike, lapping in the wet is very special, like all the other things you do in MotoGP. I hadn't been in the wet since 2018, it was strange. I struggled a bit in the second run but I still improved quite a bit this morning finishing 11th and not far away. This afternoon, on the other hand, we rode in these conditions just because in the race there could be similar conditions, but I don’t think it will be like that. "
Miller set the pace. Will it be important to study his data?
"Jack has been in MotoGP for many years and knows these tyres very well, he already knows how to get the best out of them. It is very useful to follow him in these half-wet, half-dry conditions. In the wet each rider has a different style, so it is more difficult to learn something. Instead in these conditions you can see where he made the difference and that’s vitally important. It will be very useful because maybe Sunday in the race could be like today and it will be important to be ready. I will certainly study his data very well today; I have to understand a lot of things ".
In the wet it was clear that the Ducati could be the bike to beat. In the dry, what do you think the situation will be?
"Usually when it's cold, the Yamahas are strong because they manage to get the tyres up to temperature early. But it must be said that this is a very suitable track for the Ducati. Here it has often been fast, I don't think there is a big difference with the other bikes. In my opinion there is a certain equilibrium on this track between the various bikes ".
In general, what are your prospects for the race, do you feel in good shape?
"Yes, I feel in excellent condition for this weekend. I like the bike and I think we will go fast even in the dry. Today in all the corners it was dry when braking, while the track was wet in the corners and the exit. So you are good in corner entry, but when you exit the corner the bike moves a lot. It’s something we have to work on, Jack was very strong. I have to learn from him but I don't think I’m that far away.”
We all know about your agreement with Ducati, but not about its duration. Do you have a one-year or two-year contract?
"Dall'Igna called me to tell me everything, I think it was a Tuesday or Monday morning. He told me that I would be in the factory team the following year. It was a great moment, a dream that came true. With Ducati I have a two-year contract in the factory team. "