For more than 10 years Michele Pirro has been testing and developing all the MotoGP bikes that come out of Borgo Panigale. He arrived at Borgo Panigale in its darkest moment and experienced the entire journey that led the Rosse to win the title with Pecco Bagnaia. For the party in Bologna he was among the guests of honour and the evening could also be titled Campioni in Piazza³ (instead of ²), seeing as the rider from Puglia won the CIV title.
“The other titles are a little more important than mine and we've been waiting for them for a long time - smiles Michele - Compared to a few years ago, I arrived here with a much lighter walk! It was a particularly tense season, but a fantastic one and I'm happy. I started working with Ducati in a difficult moment".
What was the first Desmosedici you tested?
“The one of 2012, that of the Valentino era. Helping to make the Ducati, together with all the other guys, the best and most sought-after bike, is a great satisfaction".
If the Desmosedici is a daughter for Dall'Igna, is it a niece for you?
“In recent days, thinking back on the whole journey, I had a flash of the track debut of Gigi's first bike, in 2015. We were at Latina, on an oval track, and I remember his face after the first laps: I was having fun and I didn't want to stop anymore. He stopped me, 'we have to take the bike to Malaysia' he said to me. I have so many memories, above all we needed a year like this".
You have a close relationship with Dall'Igna, but things didn't start well between you.
“Until 5 years ago, I hated Gigi (laughs). I was supposed to be a test rider for a year, I wanted to race and he said I would when the bike was competitive. When Stoner arrived as a test rider, I thought I was free, but Casey didn't last long in that role and that episode marked my career (laughs). Then Gigi said to me: I can find a rider, but not a test rider who does what you do. I metabolized this thing, even though the thought of what I could have done always remains. Gigi had a goal in mind and surrounded himself with the best people to achieve it".
However, you have picked up a lot of satisfaction.
“When you're young it's hard to accept. I don't think I'm outdone by many other riders, so I'm a bit disappointed about that. I will always have doubts about what my level would have been had I raced a few complete seasons in MotoGP. However, now I'm part of an important team and in the end I arrived at Ducati before Dall'Igna (laughs)".
How different was the 2012 Desmosedici from the one that won this year with Bagnaia?
“When I tested it, I understood why Valentino failed in his goal of being competitive with the Ducati: it was a bike with which you entered corners and didn't know if you would come out. The front tyre didn't give you confidence and normal riders, in the sense of those who ride with the front like Rossi or Lorenzo, struggled, while Stoner rode with the rear as he came from dirt track. Valentino wasn't able to make a difference because you had to go beyond your instincts, but when you overdid it you crashed: so you took half a step forward and two back. When a rider lacks confidence, it's over, it's hard".
What have you done in 10 years?
“It's not easy to measure the rider's sensations, you don't see them in the data, improving has been a team effort. Valentino arrived at the worst moment, but Pecco, another Italian rider, then succeeded in the feat".
What can you tell us about the 2023 Desmosedici?
“There are no major changes, but small improvements in all areas that should give us an edge. Then it's clear that the rider's sensations will make the difference. There will be a battle, because Honda won't be standing by idly. As I always say, the biggest improvement you make is based on what your opponents are doing, we won't get worse for sure. We will have all eyes on us and we have seen that we like to win, so we mustn’t give up because the competition is fierce. It's an extra motivation, plus Bastianini will arrive in the factory team and Alex Marquez in Ducati, we'll have a lot to talk about".