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MotoGP, Bagnaia 16th but optimistic: "We are in better shape than a year ago"

“I didn't do any time attacks today and I think I have good potential with the GP24, especially in braking. I saw that the Honda didn’t lap much but it goes very fast." Bastianini: “I don't feel any more pressure this year, with the new bike we are already fast”

MotoGP: Bagnaia 16th but optimistic:

Although 16th quickest time is not one of the most enthusiastic ways with which to christen the return to the track after the winter break, Francesco Bagnaia can say he is satisfied with how his first day of testing on the Sepang track went. Despite a crash immediately at the beginning of the session, the reigning World Champion managed to make progress in setting up the Desmosedici GP24, with which he had already found himself at ease in the first test last November in Valencia.

“I lapped with both the GP23 and the GP24 and I'm happy to have continued to use the new bike even in the last outing, because I think I have good potential especially in braking, but we are also making several adjustments in power delivery and I'm happy about that. I tried the longer fork that some Ducati riders had used last year and it felt good, even if we still have something to improve because the feeling is not the same as with the shorter one. Considering the day and the amount of laps I completed, I have to say that overall I'm quite happy,” said Pecco at the end of the day, illustrating his work plan.

A program that was fortunately not affected by the small setback the rider from Chivasso had at the beginning of the day.

“I went out on the track and I crashed out on the exit lap, there was a wet patch that I couldn't see - he said - This is a very particular track and when the humidity comes on you can't see that it's wet even if it is. So much so that both Raul and I crashed. All in all it went well and we set off again with the same tyres, warming them up. Unfortunately the first runs with the medium on the rear weren't the best, but I never did a time attack because the important thing was to try to have a clear idea of everything."

Although it is not an evolution of last year's model, the GP24 is a quite different bike from the previous one, especially in terms of the engine.

“It's not the chassis that is different but the placement of the engine, so the weight distribution is a bit different. I immediately realised in Valencia that I prefer the GP24 when braking because the new engine allows me to brake more, but the bike is more nervous in acceleration and in power delivery - explained Pecco - We are dealing with it and we have done a good step forward, considering that we managed to improve the feeling and obtain our best time with used tyres. I think we improved a lot throughout the day. During the session, the headwind also increased on the straight, which made it more difficult to understand the progress in acceleration, but the feeling was good."

Once the new Desmosedici has been christened, the two-time MotoGP champion will be able to concentrate on testing the new aerodynamics.

“Tomorrow we will test the new fairing. I think it will take some time, because it will be important to analyse everything carefully, given that it will change quite a bit - he stated - Today was mostly useful for us to understand the two bikes, while tomorrow's will be important for aerodynamics. We will continue with the GP24 even if it is not yet the best in certain aspects, because for us it will become better considering the steps forward we have made today."

The Ducati rider remains cautious, but he has not lost the positivity shown at Ricardo Tormo.

“Valencia is a very particular track, like Qatar, so it is essential to be able to shakedown everything here. In Spain I was very happy also because I had won the title two days before (laughs), but in general today we worked very well and we are in better shape than a year ago,” he admitted.

As for his opponents, Pecco hasn't yet managed to get a clear idea of his rivals, but he has started to notice some interesting changes in the form factor.

“I didn't see anyone on the track except Zarco and I noticed that the bike has a lot of speed and goes really fast - observed Bagnaia - On the straight it's incredible, but it's the opposite of the Honda that we saw until last year which lapped a lot but went slowly. This one doesn't lap much but it goes very fast."

Bastianini: “We are already satisfied with the Desmosedici GP24”

There is also a lot of positivity on the other side of the Ducati Lenovo team garage, where Enea Bastianini ended the day in fourth place, building on the good sensations felt in Valencia.

“Today went rather well, because with the new bike I found the positive sensations of Valencia and it was nice to get back on the MotoGP bike. It was very emotional. We did a decent job in the afternoon and it was a good first day, even if there are still things to try and improve” commented Enea, who also had a good response from his body, “I'm exhausted, but I'm fine. I'm 100% and I managed to ride the way I like."

The Rimini native then went into more detail about the day's work, describing today's programme.

“We started with the GP23 and after two outings we tried the new bike. Today we worked mostly on the setup and fine-tuning of the engine, which was the priority. It doesn't seem like it, but the new engine is quite different and we still have to find the right solution on some things, but tomorrow we will focus more on aerodynamics" said Bastianini, who is finding himself much more at ease with the GP24 than with the bike of last year.

“The first impact was like the one in Valencia and, even if we are only at the beginning, we are satisfied with the GP24. I like the engine braking, but the speed isn't bad either. The power delivery is a bit strange, as soon as you touch the throttle and then the bike is a bit nervous, but we were faster than with the GP23 - observed the 26-year-old - I'm happier with this bike, but we still have to sort out some things and the very fact of having a margin gives me hope because we are already fast. Let's say that in my opinion it is at a better starting point than the GP23. We still have to make a decision on the engine, but I think the engine will be the 2024 one. It's difficult to have everything defined at the beginning, but I think that in Qatar we will be 99% with the engine."

Opponents and pressure do not scare the Beast, intent on demonstrating all his talent after the difficulties encountered in 2023.

“I don't think anyone pushed that hard today, given that this was the first day. If I have to say who surprised me, perhaps it was Acosta, he is a good rider and he is competitive, so I think he will be competitive in Qatar too - said Enea - I don't feel any particular pressure. All the riders feel it, but it is not greater than last year or two years ago and I am happy because I can continue with the same team as last year, after having changed several teams in the last period of my life. It's nice to still be part of the Lenovo Ducati team and it's very important not to start from scratch."


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