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MotoGP, Bagnaia must beat Marquez to transform himself from a champion into a character

The Turin native has won two consecutive titles in MotoGP, he has taken Ducati back to the top of the world, yet he is not someone who hogs the limelight. That's not to say it's a limit, on the contrary. In 2024 he will have his challenger and his name is Marc Marquez

MotoGP: Bagnaia must beat Marquez to transform himself from a champion into a character

Pecco Bagnaia achieved a feat bordering on legend in 2022, when he won his first MotoGP world title by beating Fabio Quartararo after recovering from a deficit of over 90 points. It was a feat both for Pecco and Ducati, which had not won the riders' title since 2007, the year of Casey Stoner's domination. As if that wasn't enough to consign him to history, Bagnaia repeated the feat in 2023, only getting the better of Jorge Martín in the last Grand Prix in Valencia after the Spaniard seemed ready to snatch the # 1 plate from Pecco's Desmosedici. But the Turin rider kept his nerves and balls of steel on the track, keeping the fiery Martinator at bay and confirming himself as King of the top class.

Impressive goals, achieved on board the Ducati, which can only add a pinch of magic to this amazing sporting story. However, in all this there is a ‘but’, one that does not concern Bagnaia as a rider at all, but rather Pecco as a character. Sometimes shy, little inclined to controversy, always very polite in the way he deals with anyone, from his rivals to the media, including the fans and anyone who orbits around him.

A true gentleman, an impeccable sportsman (we can even erase the stain of Ibiza 2022, these are stupid things that anyone has done in life and we don't like cheap moralism). Let's also say that alongside Pecco there is the splendid Domizia Castagnini, a woman who is just as elegant and refined and never out of place in the garage. In short, a decent couple, who bear with great elegance the weight of a fame that came at a very young age for one and, perhaps consequently, for the other. Too perfect for this world that rewards mediocrity, too gentlemanly to make mistakes that could create controversy, and make the armchair commentators talk from the sofa.

Pecco has tons of personality, because if you manage to tame a beast capable of going over 350 km/h, you certainly weren't born to be an accountant and even the best exponents of this category, which always brings welcome news, don't need that. But he never lets himself go any further, he never loses control and always appears super focused on what is his job/duty: winning on a motorbike.

And boy, doesn’t he do this well! A roadmap that speaks clearly, the status of the man to beat achieved on the track with victories, poles and fast laps. He made mistakes on the track, of course. But if you go to the maximum, the limit becomes a friend with whom you chat often and that son of a woman of easy virtue is ready to present you with the bill when you least expect it, as happened in Barcelona. Luckily it went well, with interest. Some riders might have given up, they would have been afraid to continue those chats. Pecco didn't do it and he was right.

Perhaps he will never become as extroverted as Valentino Rossi, he will never be as ruthless a killer like Doohan was and he will not be able to drive the fans crazy with Schwantz-style moves. But he wins and wins a lot. Perhaps the problem with this equation is outside, it doesn't concern Bagnaia, who is virtually perfect.

Maybe to take that last step towards legend he needs someone more than something. He probably lacks the opponent with whom to build a true duality on the track. There was something with Quartararo in 2022, but Fabio had to fight on a Yamaha that was clearly lacking oxygen. There was something also in 2023, but Jorge Martín was in contention for the first time this year and basically played the role of the outsider against the champion.

So, back we go to someone we are mentioning maybe a bit too often at the start of the season, namely Marc Marquez. It will probably be with the Spaniard that Pecco will be able to build this duality, the same as the one that made us sit up and cheer when Biaggi and Rossi, Marquez and Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Marc himself were fighting it out. For Bagnaia, 2024 will be a great opportunity, because the rider universally recognized as the greatest talent of his generation will be able to fight on the track astride a bike suited to the above-mentioned talent, which will be very similar to the one available to Pecco.

At this point, the nice guy from Chivasso will be able to win the hearts of the fans as well as a possible third title. It will be a nice, tough battle. The young champion against the 'old' rascal who wants to snatch away his crown to confirm himself as the lion of the pack, the alpha male. We don't need a histrionic Pecco Bagnaia, we don't need gags, skits or over the top behaviour when he is off the track. For us, Bagnaia has already fully deserved his place in history, but 2024 will be the year in which he will be able to do something more.

You are familiar with that famous ‘housewife from Voghera’ who knows who Valentino is despite not understanding anything about motorbikes? Well, if she doesn't know you, you're not a complete 'character'. To those who understand motorcycles, little or nothing changes. Enthusiasts are one thing; generalist fans are another. Today Anna from Voghera (let's choose a name at random...) may not know who Bagnaia is, but she probably knows Marc Marquez. If a duel between the two were to really materialize in 2024, Pecco would stop being 'just' a champion and would also become that character that the masses are perhaps missing now. Will anything change on the track? In our opinion, no. But to revisit the Mugello of golden times, perhaps something like this is also needed.


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