The Austrian weekend was one full of surprises for Marco Bezzecchi. After a start in which the VR46 rider was firmly among the favourites, a slight drop in concentration relegated him to a non-optimal and risky start from the third row. A risk that he paid for heavily in Saturday's race, the innocent victim of a manoeuvre perhaps too aggressive by Martin, who was later sanctioned.
However, 'Bez' was able to react to the disappointment by finding the right spirit, perhaps thanks to the enthusiastic presence of Valentino, team patron as well as "putative father" of the Academy guys, who were able to put on a show on Sunday. Marco controlled the race intelligently, managing tyre wear in the early stages, a strategy that later paid off in the duel with Alex Marquez, from which he emerged victorious, thus finally taking the third step of the podium. Fifteen precious points that keep him in the top tiers of the standings, he is third 62 points behind his friend and rival Pecco Bagnaia, who has been in a state of grace in the last few races.
After yesterday's negative, blameless day, you must be very satisfied with this podium.
"I am very much - Marco said - especially after the last two races, the one at Silverstone and the one yesterday, in which things didn't go in the right direction. Obviously being able to get back to being competitive immediately gives me a lot of satisfaction; it wasn't a foregone conclusion starting from the third row, but I was able to get a good start avoiding risks in the first corner. I immediately felt very strong under braking, but rear tyre management also played a decisive role. This allowed me to easily move up the standings, until I found myself behind Alex Marquez. Overtaking him wasn't easy at all, I spent ten laps analysing the points of the track where I thought I could have a margin on him, so after realizing I had an advantage in the third sector, I prepared the attack on the penultimate corner, and it went the way I hoped. But there were some mistakes; once I ended up quite wide!".
It must not have been easy to tackle such a long race after yesterday's crash at the first corner, the Italian rider complaining of pain in his shoulders.
"I expected worse, there was some pain this morning, but I still tackled the warm-up without painkillers. The left shoulder got slightly worse, but it was still bearable. Then in the race between adrenaline and everything I forgot about it, but now I'm starting to feel the effects".
The desire for revenge got the upper hand after the crash at Silverstone and yesterday's crash in the Sprint.
"I went at it like crazy today, but the crash in England didn't affect me in that sense. I needed a result like this, with that good battle with Alex, to erase yesterday's disappointment. It was great with the guys in the team to be able to raise morale in such a short time".
A Sunday to remember, not only for Marco but for the entire VR46 group, all crowned by the presence in the pits of Valentino himself.
"I really can't complain – continued Bez - Vale's presence in the pits gave me a lot of energy, as did Celestino Vietti's victory on Acosta in Moto2 just before my race. Cele is one of my best friends, inside and outside the paddock, his victory gives me a lot of joy."
Could all this party atmosphere, the happiness of this family environment, especially after the race, together with the VR46 friends and with Valentino, influence the choice of team for your future in racing?
"Valentino is pushing hard to help me with this decision. It's something that has great intrinsic value for me and makes me very happy, not everyone can say they have the support of the inimitable Valentino Rossi. I think I've already made my choice, but I can't communicate anything officially yet".
Is Valentino pushing for you to stay in VR46, or for you to get a factory Ducati?
"It's a question I've heard a few times lately - the Italian rider whose near future hasn't yet been put on paper sarcastically replied - Valentino would like me to stay with the VR46 team, and honestly, that makes me happy".
There's a party atmosphere in the air tonight with the other guys from VR46.
"Yes, I have to thank Pecco because he gave me a private flight to get home early! I'm a lucky guy, my friend and rival has a lot of money! - he joked again - We haven't organized anything yet but I think we're going to have fun".
We saw you celebrating with Valentino after the race. Is it possible to be friends and rivals at the same time?
"Pecco and I have been great friends for more than ten years. He is one of the few people with whom I have such an intimate relationship that we can jokingly insult each other after the races… but on the track we are rivals".
A rivalry that now sees ‘Nuvola Rossa’ soaring at the top of the standings 62 points ahead of Marco, who is currently third, just a few points behind Martin.
"A lot depends on the tracks we face, on some he has more margin, on others I'm closer to him, like here in Austria. He was better than me in qualifying, where I managed the pressure badly and this perhaps influenced the race. Pecco is certainly of a higher level in this management of the weekend".
Next year, there could be four Academy riders riding a Ducati. We are clearly referring to the rider market, and to the future of Franco Morbidelli after his divorce with Yamaha.
"As far as I'm concerned, I don't make this type of reasoning, for me we are four riders in MotoGP, the colours of the bike aren't important to me. But I think Franco deserves a competitive bike, because he's an excellent rider and he doesn't deserve to stay at home. If he were to find a home with Ducati, I'd be happy for him."
MotoGP is going through some changes. Today here at the Red Bull Ring we saw full grandstands, what more can the riders give for the show?
"I think the organizers here in Austria have done a great job, our sport is one of the most spectacular, but I can't say I'm impartial as a rider! - he joked again - the other classes also put on a show so it's a good thing the organizers are committed to keeping the fans' interest alive throughout the weekend, even if this may mean more responsibilities and commitments for us riders. It is something we can improve on further, but I think that here at the Red Bull Ring everything worked great, I also hope the other circuits follow suit".
This was the first race weekend where the new tyre pressure regulation played an important role on track performance. Has the strategy in the race changed?
"Obviously it's a new element of difficulty that we'll have to learn to deal with, it wasn't easy also given the high temperatures. However, it's also one of those elements we don't have complete control over because a lot depends on the specific situations during the race. In my case, I didn’t have huge problems, except when I had to chase Alex for many laps, and I found myself forced to be ‘elastic’ with him to keep the front tyre pressure under control. It's something we'll have to get used to".