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MotoGP, Bastianini: “I’ll have to face the sprint race differently, I foresee duels”

“I don’t see a single rival. I can learn a lot by watching Pecco. Marquez remains a rider to beat. I had more difficulties during the tests this year, but the potential of this Ducati is very high.”

MotoGP: Bastianini: “I’ll have to face the sprint race differently, I foresee duels”


After the announcement, the photo shoots, and the test, the long-awaited moment has finally arrived for Enea, when he'll be wearing the factory team colors for the first time at tomorrow’s free practice sessions on the Portuguese circuit in the first round of the 2023 season. The pressure he’s feeling from the hopes that the Borgo Panigale team has placed on his shoulders is hardly perceptible in the words of the young rider. Enea prefers to maintain a cautious approach in the first race when it comes to results, not ignoring the advantage\disadvantage of having someone who is both a great ally and the first of his rivals in the same garage: Pecco Bagnaia. For the rider from Rimini, who snatched the third place in the Championship last year from Aleix and his Aprilia, this season promises to be challenging and, at the same time, full of opportunities that only a facrory team can offer.

This will be your first race weekend in the MotoGP with the Ducati factory team.
I’m eager to test myself,” Enea said. “It’s nice to wear these colors. After so many photo shoots, tomorrow I’ll finally wear them in the first free practice session. We worked well during the tests, and we’re ready for this first race. Saturday’s new format with the sprint race will be interesting and challenging. I think I’ll have to tackle it differently than Sunday’s race, without a strategy and pushing straight away. It’ll be an even challenge with all the other riders.”

Being a team factory rider also means being able to test many new components. Does this mean being under more pressure?
Compared to last year, the pressure has remained more or less the same for now. I talked a lot with the engineers but, overall, the work is the same out of the garage. It’ll definitely be different during the race, but I think the team is very relaxed and motivated to face this championship at its best.”

You were the star of several duels with Pecco and memorable victories last year. Do you think the same will happen in 2023? Who’ll be your other rivals this season?
The 2022 season was fantastic, above and beyond my expectations. I want to stay grounded. It won’t be easy to improve on last year’s results. We saw a lot of fast riders during the tests, especially among the Ducatis, so anything can happen. It’s difficult to define a single main rival. Certainly, Pecco is the reigning champion right now, and I’ll definitely have something to learn from watching him in the garage.

What would make you happy in this first race weekend here in Portimão?
A podium, without a doubt!” the Italian rider said, smiling. “But, in the end, I think even a top five would be a good result to start the season. I’m obviously referring to the race on Sunday. On Saturday, I wouldn’t mind a podium with the pace I had in the tests.”

These Sprint Races are the big question mark of this Championship. Do you also think that reducing the number of compounds available can be an advantage for you, given your tire management skills?
It’s still difficult to outline the disadvantages and advantages right now. It’s a format that could surprise both riders and fans. I’m not ruling out that good duels can come out of it, but I also have to consider the risks.”

How does the bike set-up differ most between the traditional race and the sprint race?
Electronics play an important role. Not having to worry too much about tire wear. Otherwise, the bike set-up hasn’t radically changed.”

If you had to, what grade would you give to the tests that just ended?
About a seven and a half. I’m happy with the work done and the results achieved, even if I can’t deny that I struggled more than I expected. Now we know what we still have work to do, but it’ll take time.

Compared to last year, before your victory in Qatar, how do you feel?
Last year, everything was a big unknown. Fortunately, when I got on the Gresini team’s Ducati, I quickly had a great feeling, and everything became easier. Maybe I started more at one-hundred percent than I am now but, even now, I think the level is excellent, although there are still some details that need improving.

Is the new Ducati much more complicated?
I had a few more problems than last year, but the limit of its potential is also much higher.


Translated by Leila Myftija

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