Day-1 of the last official MotoGP test session at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao ended under the sign of Ducati, more specifically Francesco Bagnaia. With the #1 clearly visible on the fairing of his Desmosedici, the reigning world champion was today's star performer, setting a dominant 1'38.771 at the end, just a whisker away from the record on the flying lap of the Portuguese track. Irrespective of the times, in contrast to twelve months ago, the union between "Pecco" and the latest evolution from Borgo Panigale already seems to be perfect.
"We had a good day, I'm satisfied - began Bagnaia - we managed to improve a package that was already very strong here, tomorrow we will have to complete the checks so that everything is 100% before the season starts. We have completed a lot of steps in race set-up, also trying a time attack in the final stages. Like in Malaysia, we started from a really high level".
Are the GP23 and GP22 different from each other?
"They're not similar, even though we proved to be equally competitive. We probably have a little less top speed, but handling is excellent. This is very important. Have all the decisions been made? We are already at 90% of the development of the new bike. I like its layout a lot and I'm feeling at ease on the track. In some areas the GP23 is still behind, while in others good steps forward have been made, such as power delivery. Last year the pre-season tests were a disaster, but now everything is going in the right direction in relation to my needs, to what I more or less like. We're close".
You tried the new fairing with the "tub" with Bastianini...
"I have clear ideas about it, but it's worth analyzing it again because it behaves differently on this track than in Sepang. At the moment, I feel like I prefer the traditional version."
Do you have the feeling that Ducati and Aprilia are superior in view of what we've seen to date?
"It would seem so, even more than in Malaysia. With the medium tyres we went fast for the whole day, even lapping below the track's race record. They are still tests and it's never easy to draw conclusions. We don't know exactly the work of everyone, so I don't want to make mistakes in my judgements. The winged Aprilia? I don't know which direction they're taking, good for them if all those wings prove to be effective".
What do you expect from tomorrow?
"We will focus on work from the point of view of the Sprint Race, on the program for a race weekend, as well as on the softer spec tyre introduced by Michelin as the climatic conditions should be more favourable".