They were both born in 1997, one in Turin and the other in Rimini, they have won a world championship each, in Moto2, and both are now riding for Ducati. They also share the first letters of their surname: Bagnaia and Bastianini, in strict alphabetical order, are the riders that the Italian fans have been waiting for. At Le Mans, last Sunday, they came up against each other for the first time in MotoGP, with Enea getting the better after Pecco's crash, now the hope is that revenge will come soon, perhaps already at Mugello.
The point of arrival is the same, the paths to reach it in some ways similar and in other ways different. Bagnaia cut his teeth in CEV in the team of Emilio Alzamora (Marc Marquez's manager) before being adopted by Valentino Rossi in his Academy. Bastianini, on the other hand, in CIV, with Fausto Gresini and Fabrizio Cecchini as tutelary deities who took him to the World Championship. In the cadet class they both achieved less than they deserved. After a complicated start, Pecco came good with the Mahindra, the least competitive bike of the lot, even managing to win a couple of races. While Enea came close to the title in 2016, but he always missed the big target.
In Moto2, on the other hand, they followed the same path: experience in the first year, champions in the second. Then the call from Ducati, which demonstrated that it believes in them. Bagnaia was handed over to Cristian Gabarrini (former crew chief of Stoner and Lorenzo, to name two), Enea to Alberto Giribuola (right-hand man of Dovizioso). For both, red is their favourite colour and now they are the two jewels of Borgo Panigale.
After two seasons of ups and downs, the man from Piedmont broke through at the end of last year, winning 4 of the last 6 GPs and getting another win this season at Portimao. The rider from Romagna managed to get on the podium already on his debut (in the two Misano races) despite a vintage Desmosedici and this year he has achieved 3 victories in the first 7 races. It was logical that sooner or later they would have clashed on the track, it happened in France and there were the first little digs between them.
"I think I made Pecco nervous and so he made a mistake, maybe he suffers me more than other riders because I'm Italian" gloated the Beast of Rimini. "He can think what he wants, mine was an error of judgment", was the response of the factory Ducati rider. To talk about dualism and start pulling the names of Rossi and Biaggi out of the drawer, we will still have to wait, also because the two are still far from the results of their illustrious predecessors. Even temperamentally there is little difference, both Pecco and Enea are less histrionic than Max and Vale. More reserved the rider from Piedmont, more light-hearted but always quiet the guy from Romagna, both are transformed when they get onto their motorbikes, where they can be ruthless as befits those who aim high in sport. Plus, they both have no problem saying what they think and hardly ever look for excuses if something goes wrong.
"Bagnaia said he would like Miller as his teammate," recalled Bastianini. "Of course, we have been together for 4 years and I like working with him, but Enea deserves a place in the official team" explained Pecco. The possibility of seeing them in red, sharing the same box, in 2023 is concrete. The ‘Bestia’ has already decided to continue with Ducati, in the coming weeks we will find out with which colours. Two Italians in the first team would not be new, in recent times there have been Dovizioso and Iannone and then again Andrea with Petrucci, so there are no particular impediments. Also because Martin, the other candidate, is standing out more for his crashes than for his results at the beginning of the year and nerve problems in his right arm only make things worse. Miller, meanwhile, seems to have given up on that seat by now (“Bastianini is Italian, it would make sense”) and has been looking around for some time, with KTM in his sights.
It is therefore difficult for Dall’Igna and Ciabatti to say no to Enea. Gambling on two divas already happened in the days of Lorenzo and Dovizoso and it didn’t go badly (apart from the end of the story), with the two pushing each other hard to continually raise the bar.
The paths of Bagnaia and Bastianini seem destined to cross, perhaps even to collide, giving rise to a dualism that promises to entertain all the fans. Meanwhile, the next stage will be at Mugello and the spectators could not want for a better show.