If in Misano, where Enea Bastianini was second, just a few thousandths behind Pecco Bagnaia, and in Aragon, where he overtook his compatriot on the last lap, the two young Italian Ducati riders fought tooth and nail for victory, this Sunday in the race MotoGP of the Japanese Grand Prix met again, although this time fighting for ninth position at the finish line.
The circumstances of the weekend in Japan , with a single free practice session on Friday, a qualifying Saturday in the wet and, again, in the dry on Sunday, with two crashes by Bastianini included (one in the dry and one in the wet) , put Gresini ‘s rider in a starting position on the grid (15th) as complicated, or more so, than 12th at Bagnaia, which ended up bringing them together after the first few laps fighting to close the top 10.
Despite not being the victory, nor the podium, at stake, the two Italians had it stiff once again, trying to impose the profile of dominating rider for the next year in which they will share a box in the official Ducati garage .
“At the start it was important to recover some positions and try to take advantage of the soft tyre, but it was difficult, because when you’re behind so many bikes the pressure in the front tire goes up, making it difficult to overtake other riders under braking”, Bastianini explained at the end of the race, in which he finished ninth.
“Also, I had Pecco in front of me and we know he brakes very late, so overtaking him wasn’t easy,” even though he managed it in the early part of the race.
“Then, when I passed him, I had a clear track, I was able to pick up my rhythm, although in the last part of the race I was not too fast, because the tire drop was important in the last ten laps”, which allowed Pecco to recover the position.
A Bagnaia that on the last lap tried to pass Fabio Quartararo to scratch the World Cup leader for a point, a maneuver that ended with the Turin man on the ground.
The error helped Bastianini to recover a position, although the one from Rimini had been chasing that place in the race by setting his fastest lap at the end.
“Yes, three or four laps from the end, because I was on the limit to try to stay close to Pecco and Fabio. It was a risk, but I had to take it to stay close to them and maybe have a chance on the last lap to overtake them.” I imagine.
Once again, the battle between the two riders made it clear that there are no team orders at Ducati, or if there are, Enea is not aware of it: “No, I haven’t received any message. Maybe there was a plan, but nothing has come to me,” he settled.