Pecco Bagnaia continued today in Sepang to carry on with the development work of the new Ducati. As always, it is particularly difficult to improve a bike that has amply demonstrated that it is almost perfect, but in Borgo Panigale for 2023 they have in any case managed to bring a bike to Malaysia that appears to have even greater potential. The reigning champion has already almost promoted it, the situation in general appears very different compared to the tensions that were experienced at the beginning of 2022.
In short, Ducati certainly does not want to stop with development and innovation, but for this season it has chosen a different approach which is bearing fruit for now. Bagnaia finished the day with the 5th fastest time, he didn't ride much but the work done seems to have given him more than a smile at the end of the day.
"A positive day - explained Pecco - in those 19 laps we did in the dry, we managed to improve the power delivery a lot, up to getting close to last year's bike. The predictions for tomorrow are to be able to be close with the 2022 and it will be a good start. Especially in the wet I'm happy because in 2022 it was always complicated and I didn't feel at ease, while today from the first lap I felt very good and everything worked for the best".
Did you compare the bikes today?
"I always used the 2023 today. Actually, we have two versions, one with the large tank and one with the evolution of the 2022. I'd say I'll continue with the upper part of the 2023 and the lower part of the evolved 2022. For me, this is the best compromise now".
In short, there is still no definitive Ducati 2023.
"The definitive version doesn't exist yet, I think there are aspects on which we can still improve a lot, but in my opinion we are very close. I don't know what they will decide to do, due to the homologations a very clear decision will have to be made, but for now to have it, you have to wait at least for Portimao, because there it is a track where aerodynamics have a lot of influence, and even more so in terms of riding than here in Sepang".
In which area of riding do you feel the effect of aerodynamics the most?
"Aerodynamics affects everything in the end. Except on the straight, where you don't feel anything different between first and sixth gear. But it affects wheelies, braking, fast corners and direction changes. It's something that does a lot, I would say really a lot. For one thing, the biggest step between the 2021 and 2022 bikes was the fairing, which was smaller".
In choosing one configuration rather than another, do you also evaluate the physical effort that a solution requires?
"In the end I think I ride with what makes me go faster, then if I get more tired, fine. We are physically prepared to face many races, many laps. You don't get to a point where you struggle to ride. For me , if something makes me go faster I use it!".
What do you expect to do tomorrow?
"I hope it doesn't rain, there's still work to do. Today we worked a bit on the new fork, which already works well, but in my opinion it needs more work. Tomorrow we have to finish the work on the engine, but there I am quite calm. There will be a swingarm to test and then there will be the last comparison between the 2022 and 2023 bikes. I'm more inclined to continue working on the 2023, but we'll see tomorrow what we decide to do."
How is the new engine different?
"The new engine has a huge range of use, while the old one remains a little more dead down below. But that's normal, because after four years we had now taken it to the limit of its potential. This new one was born very well, only that it needs to be sorted."
Have you tried a race simulation?
"Today I wanted to do a Sprint Race, I did it with the wet tire but it's not the same. Tomorrow I'd like to do a simulation, but we need to see if we have the time to do it, we have a good work schedule".
What about the episode with Pol Espargarò at the start of the day?
"I don't have many words about it, it was the out-lap. We're all always very close when we lap, that's okay."