Pecco Bagnaia faces the Japanese Grand Prix closer to Fabio Quartararo than ever. The Italian, who won four grands prix in the second half of the season, was on the podium at the last Aragon Grand Prix. This, together with the difficulty of the Yamaha rider to get on the podium and especially his crash in Motorland, means that Bagnaia is only ten points behind ‘El Diablo’ .
His impressive comeback is accompanied by an absolute power of the Ducati army in the last tests, with Jack Miller and Enea Bastianini credited to the first positions. “We are the bike to beat, because the Ducati is the most complete,” said Pecco at the pre-weekend press conference at Motegi. “But we have also seen that in Austria, where we were very strong, Fabio was just as fast as us.”
And it is that Motegi is one of the calendar circuits that best adapts to the characteristics of the GP22. “Here, like in Austria or Austin, we make the difference, and this may be the one where we have the most advantage. But we will have to see it, because there are times when the height adjustment device gives more problems, especially in braking”, he explained.
That is why Bagnaia acknowledged being “happy” to race again at Motegi, “one of his favorite circuits.” “The situation is completely different from 2019, when I was a rookie, but I think we can do very well this year,” he said.
Although after the race in Aragón he admitted that, after several months of avoiding it, he was thinking about the general classification, Bagnaia remains faithful to his philosophy of going race by race. “There are still a lot of tests to go. I want to focus on doing my job well and being competitive.”
But, despite his platonic love for the eastern track, the transalpine may not have his best weekend. The weather forecast threatens that the race will be played in the wet; conditions in which Bagnaia does not feel comfortable. “It’s true that I’m not the fastest in the wet, it’s always difficult for me. In Indonesia I finished 15th, so it will be important to have more sessions in the rain to be able to understand the conditions.”
How could it be otherwise, Pecco was asked about possible team orders by the Italian squad; orders that Borgo Panigale has so far denied. “Honestly, I don’t think I need help to win this World Cup. I’d rather win on my own, than be let through. In any case, if Ducati decides differently, it won’t be because I asked.”
Although he fights with Aleix Espargaró and Quartararo for the world championship, the one who is squeezing him in the last races is his future teammate, Enea Bastianini. “I think Enea is one of the most talented drivers on the grid, and for sure he will want to finish at the front again. He is less of a contender, but I have made up a lot of points in the last few races, so he still has a chance,” he concluded.
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