If the Ducati over the years has gone from being a sort of ugly duckling in the paddock to taking on the role of probably the best bike on the grid, a lot of credit must go to the work done by Michele Pirro. The Italian tester has been decisive for the Borgo Panigale manufacturer, and step by step he has contributed to making the bike so fast and above all versatile that in the past very few riders were able to get the best out of it and which now sees three riders fighting for the title.
Michele has returned to the race-track in place of the injured Jorge Martìn, tasting the atmosphere of the MotoGP paddock for the first time in almost a year. Today he finished in 15th position on a not particularly exciting Friday, in which despite having lapped well he completely missed access to Q2. A sign of how high the level of MotoGP is today, as confirmed by the rider himself in his briefing with journalists at the end of the day.
"I am happy because MotoGP is my world. I have a lot of fun during the whole race weekend. The level increases every year, and now it is really very high. I am happy with my speed; it is the first time this year that I have lapped in perfect conditions to push hard. In each test session the weather was not perfect. Today I pushed to the limit, feeling certain sensations on the bike again. For tomorrow the team is already working to improve the lap times as well. "
Your work with the Ducati seems to have paid off. What are the riders asking today?
"The nice thing is that the current riders don't ask for anything. They go really fast, so I'm pleased because the bike certainly always needs to be improved, but they also get involved by giving their all. I think this is a great help."
Did you follow Bagnaia on the track today, the fastest both among the Ducati riders and the fastest overall?
"Today I didn't follow Pecco, we carried out a different programme. Pecco's confidence with the bike is very high now, it was immediately evident. I'm happy because Ducati has worked very well, another step is needed for me, Zarco and Jack, but I believe that for tomorrow the engineers will find a solution for all the Ducati riders. "
Did you use the lowering device on the rear of your Ducati?
"Yes, from the Bucine it is possible to use the device. It is very useful especially when exiting the corners, but you really become perfectly stable at the San Donato. It’s one thing I really like, because three years ago I had a bad time at the San Donato".
Is there anything that amazed you on the track today?
"The only thing that surprised me is everyone's speed. They are all high-level times; I did a time that in the past we saw in FP3 or in qualifying. Doing a low 1'46 in the second session means that the level has risen a lot. Those are qualifying times in my opinion. My biggest problem is that I stay away from the races. They are used to a higher intensity, I am not as ready as they are, so I arrive a whisker later. I miss that intensity that they always have and manage to use, but it is part of the confidence in the bike. When we test here we lap in 1'47, which maybe is a pace that is good to try things out. Then in the race as the pace is slow, you have to switch over and these are things that come with training and consistency, I hope to succeed tomorrow ".
Is the top speed record within reach?
"Tomorrow and then Sunday we have to take back the speed record after having done it in Qatar, at least the Mugello record. It has to be like that! In the tests I did 359 km/h".