Pecco Bagnaia today, in the Valencia tests, not only showcased a total black livery, but also a golden garage chair. The world champion sat down on his 'throne' to start 2024 and even managed to finish the job early. When he introduced himself to journalists, his face was relaxed: "I'm relieved, the tension is gone and it's fantastic" he smiled. He didn't even have a day to enjoy the victory and "Monday was beautiful, it was a day of total enjoyment and the next two weeks will be too - he says - Sunday evening I had fun, even too much, and the next day I relaxed".
Now what are the plans?
“I will go to the FIM gala in Liverpool, then to the party in Bologna and on the other days I will turn off my phone and not answer anyone. The new Call of Duty is out, so I'm good (laughs)."
Let's get it out of the way: your impressions of Marc Marquez's debut in Ducati?
“When the announcement of his arrival at Ducati was made I said that he would set the best time at the first test and I wasn't that wrong. In my opinion he will have fun with our bike."
How do you regain concentration for tests after winning a title?
“Yesterday afternoon I had to take part in an event and that helped me get back on track straight away, it was tough the day after winning the World Championship. It put the idea of being a rider back in my head. I knew that this test would be fundamental because for two years we had been leaving the November tests with doubts about the new features. In 2021 because we were in Jerez with perfect conditions and everything was going great and then in Sepang everything was a disaster. Last year, however, we left here not being convinced of many things."
It sounds like you're in a different situation now.
“I'm happy with the test because we managed to do a good job even if we didn't find good conditions, the wind was annoying. But the Ducati engineers have managed to bring a new engine that already runs like the old one and is already a plus. Furthermore, in the areas where I had asked to work, such as corner entry, I have already found things better. There is no better way to go on holiday."
How different is the GP24?
“There haven't been huge changes on the new bike and the fact that in some points it's at the level of the old one is positive, but in others it's even better. I'm very happy, even if Valencia isn't the best circuit to do certain tests."
What do you like about the new engine?
“Last time we made the delivery too sweet, while I like a more direct connection with the throttle during acceleration. Now you can feel the power (laughs).”
And the chassis?
“The GP22 allowed you to bring a lot of speed into corner entry and helped you turn, while the GP23 improved in traction and in the first braking phase, losing a little on entry. I think that in the GP24 the weight balance is more similar to that of the 2022 bike."
How much have you improved as a test rider in recent years?
“I have always been a sensitive rider, sometimes even too sensitive and this limited me. In the tests, however, it was a plus and helped us a lot to understand the direction to take. In the first year in the official team, development was frozen due to Covid, so I had nothing to test. Unlike 2022, when we had so much and weren't able to try everything, we had finished the work during the first 2 GPs. It was a very difficult experience, but it helped me to be more decisive."
What do you think of the new concession system?
“I'm a rider and I give my best, certainly the technicians are less happy than me (laughs). Not having wild cards won't make a huge difference for me, but having fewer tyres for testing will, even if 170 seems enough to do the most important work. More than anything, I think that concessions should be the same for all manufacturers who have achieved results. Granted, we have Yamaha and Honda, but Aprilia has won races and KTM has been competitive. It's also true that there are 8 of us riders and this helps us."
Have you looked at the other bikes?
“I didn't see anything, just that the Honda is very long, a bit like the Ducati”.