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MotoGP, Bagnaia: “Winning a title in SBK too? I'd like to, but there's time."

“The 2023 title was the best, because I won with number 1. I wanted it at all costs and I would have found it difficult to accept a defeat. Misano was a fundamental race, but after Barcelona I could no longer express myself 100%"

MotoGP: Bagnaia: “Winning a title in SBK too? I'd like to, but there's time.

For the second consecutive year, Ducati made a clean sweep of titles, adding to its dominance in MotoGP and Superbike also that in the Superport World Championship. A glorious 2023 for the Borgo Panigale manufacturer, celebrated in great style at the Unipol Arena in Bologna, where the two-time world champion Francesco Bagnaia could not fail to be present.

Despite having started as favourite, and with a splendid double win in the opening round of the championship, reconfirming his title triumph was not an easy mission for the rider from Chivasso, protagonist of an intense duel with Jorge Martin which was only resolved in the last race at Valencia. A scenario as similar as it is different from the one in which Pecco won his first World Championship against Fabio Quartararo.

“It was different, very different - explained Bagnaia - Last year there was a point in the season in which we had nothing left to lose, because we were at -91, and when you're in that phase where you necessarily have to win, for some absurd reason, it is almost easier to do. We won four in a row and, in the end, in the last few races we could allow ourselves to control the situation. This year, however, it was a bit the opposite, because we reached +66 and then we were also behind in Indonesia. It was a difficult situation, especially after Barcelona. But we managed to remain very consistent, which is the most important key of all. On Sunday we were always the strongest and we managed to bring home the points. In my opinion, this title was better because I won it with the number 1."

There are many moments to remember, in a season that saw the Ducati rider win seven Grands Prix and take another four victories in Sprint races.

“The first race of the year was perfect, I didn't get pole, but I got the victory in the Sprint and in the race. I didn't feel the burden of necessarily having to win, but I have to say that in Portimao we have always been strong and it was a shame about the pole, because it would have been nice to start the season again like this, but we can still be satisfied - said the 26 year old - Mugello and Austria were the two best weekends. Maybe Mugello a little more, because we were at home and lapping in 1'44.8 was something incredible. It was the first time I saw such a red tide under the podium and it was perhaps the most magical moment of the season."

However, the turning point of the season was the frightening accident suffered at Montmeló, which risked compromising the Italian’s entire championship.

“At first, Barcelona was a complicated moment. The next day I woke up and I was really broken; I couldn't do anything. But we started with rehabilitation straight away and did our best to get back on the bike at Misano, which was five days later. We managed to qualify for Q2, stay on the front row and get on the podium in both races - recalled Bagnaia - I wasn't well, I wasn't even standing that much, but we tried and managed to get a great result. I'm not satisfied because I was there to try to win, even if the condition wasn't the best, but losing only 14 points instead of 37 made the difference. I think that race was fundamental, but mentally I could no longer express myself at 100%, especially in the early stages of the race or in qualifying, so it was a bit complicated to get back to the pace I had set in the last few races."

Even the Sprint Races, from Catalunya onwards, were not particularly friendly to Pecco, who struggled to express himself at the same level maintained in the Grand Prix.

“I have always preferred the long race, also because the situation in the Sprints became a bit more complicated for me after Barcelona - he admitted - Up until then we had achieved four victories, always reaching the podium, while in the second part of the year we were a bit limited, because in the races where we could have done well we made the wrong choice of tyre or even the tyre itself."

Despite the difficulties, however, the reigning champion never lost heart, keeping his eyes set on the final prize.

“I am very proud, so I constantly thought that I wanted the title at all costs. I would have found it hard to accept a defeat, but every now and then it's also right to fall down and then get up again. We always learn from every lesson and I think that this second part of the championship was a very important lesson for the whole team" observed Pecco, eager to enjoy some well-deserved rest: "To think about next year there is time, but now there's a lot of time for tennis and Call of Duty."

The target for 2024 will obviously be to confirm himself as champion, but Bagnaia's mission will be complicated by the entry of Marc Marquez into the Ducati ranks.

“I think Marc will definitely be an extra opponent. He will be very fast and he has already been so in the tests too - commented Pecco - Obviously he was able to delve deeper into the full performance, doing the time attack and lapping with the soft tyre, to fully discover the bike, but in my opinion he was very good and very fast. Just as I would have expected from him, because he gets off a difficult bike and gets on the best one. It will be a good fight, but I don't think it will be only with him, because Bez, Enea, Jorge, Alex and Franco will all be fast with the Ducati and it will really be a fight. There are eight of us, we have to be competitive, but the level will continue to rise."

With two titles already under his belt with Ducati, the 26-year-old is starting to rightfully enter among the riders who have written the history of the Borgo Panigale company and could one day become the first world champion with the red team in both MotoGP and Superbike.

“I think about it every now and then. I like looking at the numbers and statistics at the end of the season, Wikipedia is a page that I consult a lot - he admitted - I would also like to win in Superbike, but there is still a lot of time for that."


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