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MotoGP, Bagnaia: "From the podium at Mugello you see a sea of fans and you feel invincible"

"What did Valentino say to me on the grid? To do exactly what I did on Saturday. This track is magical. The pressure? I love it and to feel it is a privilege."

MotoGP: Bagnaia:

Mugello was yellow, then red and now blue: the color of the Italian national team, with Bagnaia playing like a superstar without letting his opponents touch the ball. Then he picked up an electric guitar to celebrate the victory in front of his audience, but the impression is that the party is just beginning. "I stopped drinking in January, although I'll have to start doing it again because I want to celebrate at my wedding - Pecco laughs - I even wrote it on my helmet: I wanna rock and roll all night and ... party every day." The mission was perfectly accomplished on the most important weekend for him.

"The day had started off well because I had received a message from a legend like Gene Simmons that I was going to win," he says, "I am very happy, satisfied and proud. It was a fantastic weekend, I started well and my strategy in the first two corners was perfect: it was important to put myself in front and impose my pace. Doing more than that was impossible, winning in front of this crowd is an added value, like racing with this livery that brought us good luck."

What does it mean to celebrate on the podium at your home GP?
"When you're there as an Italian and you see that sea of people with your colors, the flags, it's incredible. It makes everything more magical and I love Mugello for that. I've loved it since I was a kid and even now, since 2022 the crowd has increased and today it felt like we were back in the good old days."

Did you feel a bit like Valentino?
"I don't know how Vale felt, but I'm sure he was happy to race here, I think he won nine times (laughs). This track is great, there are tents all around, you feel the fans close, like they live in the paddock.When you see them from the podium, you feel invincible. I'm always happy when I start this GP weekend and I try to be perfect all the time because I know how important it is."

What did Valentino say to you before the start?
"Just to do exactly what I did on Saturday. I tried."

Could Mugello become your lucky circuit, a bit like Austin for Marquez?
"I hope so.It suits my riding style perfectly, I like its wide corners. It's a good track for me and also for Ducati, it's a combination of things that helps me. Public included."

Is the downside also having more pressure?
"The pressure is always there and everyone always expects something more from me: it's as if winning is normal and crashing is a disaster. But we chose this sport because we love pressure, it motivates us, it pushes us to the limit, and I like it. I' d rather have pressure than be 7th or 15th and not have it, it's something we face every day, every year, and I know the championship is still long and will increase. It's a privilege."

Tell us about your start: from 5th at the start to 1st after two corners?
"It was not a matter of taking risks, but being in the right place at the right time. I decided to be on the outside in the first to be on the inside in the second, as I had done last year with Miller. Vinales braked very hard though, my strategy was failing, but as soon as I saw him go wide I was able to cross the line. Then Martin was not perfect on the exit and I took advantage of that advantage."

Speaking of Jorge, he was closing in on the finish....
"Today it was very difficult to keep the same pace. I tried to be consistent, but after 7 or 8 laps I saw that I was struggling with the front tire, it was moving a lot. So I decided to alternate two fast laps with slower ones and it worked."

You are now just one win away from Stoner on the Ducati....
"Casey did it in less time than I did (laughs). It will be possible to overtake him, but he was faster in reaching that number."

This is victory number 93 on the Ducati, but the rider with that number did not win as had happened with 27, 63, 72 and 89.
"Good thing, because after Marquez there are no higher numbers (laughs)."

You also like Assen, after Barcelona and Mugello you could make it a trio of wins. What is your goal?
"Not to crash again (laughs). It is important to have consistency, both in work and results. I like Assen, but I remember very well that Martin last year was much faster than me in the last part of the race. It's going to be complicated, but he thinks the GP24 can help me a little bit on that track: it's better under braking although less stable in fast corners. I want to take advantage of this moment, it would be important for the championship, but also for me and the team. I haven't forgotten the crash in the Barcelona Sprint, it was a real disaster and it's a mistake I don't want to repeat."

Meanwhile, you moved closer to 18 points from Martin in the standings.
"The championship is still long. We are coming to very good tracks for me, but also for the opponents. The important thing is to be consistent."

There are only GP24s on the podium, is it definitely better than the GP23?
"Yes because it's a second and a half faster! (laughs). Joking aside, we adapted to the new bike faster than we did last year, but the GP23 is a very good bike, very competitive on some tracks and less so on others: here, or in Barcelona, the 2023 was very fast. In the Jerez tests, the riders with the GP23 got a new exhaust valve that helps a lot to solve some problems we had last year. The two bikes, they are very similar, I think a victory of the old bike will come soon, but we three riders on the podium today are all fast, we are doing something special."

 

Translated by Julian Thomas

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