Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia is plotting a calm approach towards this weekend’s Argentinian MotoGP, round two of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship season, as he looks to strike Termas de Rio Hondo from Ducati’s short ‘yet to win’ Grand Prix bucket list.
The Italian arrives in South America as the clear man to beat after an exemplary start to his title defence in Portimao, Bagnaia backing up his landmark victory in the inaugural MotoGP Sprint Race with a commanding success in the main Portuguese MotoGP feature too.
Going a long way to vindicating fears from rivals that Bagnaia-factory Ducati GP23 package is going to take some beating this season, the 26-year old is conscious that he doesn’t want to start thinking about the end title goal too soon.
Even so, with two of his three ‘most feared’ title rivals - Marc Marquez and team-mate Enea Bastianini - forced to sit out this event due to injury, Bagnaia has a golden opportunity to stamp his mark on this year’s championship battle at this early stage.
“It is too soon to think about the championship,” he told the media in Thursday’s pre-event press conference.
“I think we need to consider the standings and in this moment, Maverick [Vinales], Marco [Bezzecchi] and Jack [Miller] are very close, so we have to focus on being competitive and then we will see the process and how the championship will go.
“In August we will have a clearer picture, so [now] I need to focus on them (alongside him) and not do stupid or crazy things. The championship is very long.”
Should Bagnaia - or any one of his seven Ducati counterparts - secure victory at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit this weekend, it would mark a maiden victory for the manufacturer in Argentina.
It’s an unfulfilled objective that doesn’t present itself all too often on the 21-strong 2023 MotoGP calendar, with just five events yet to go the way of a Ducati rider at some stage since its series debut in 2003.
Even then, among this quintet are two all-new venues for this season - in India and Kazakhstan - while Thailand and Indonesia have only hosted MotoGP on three and two occasions respectively.
As such, on MotoGP’s eighth visit to the venue in the north of Argentina, Bagnaia is keen to be the rider to break this particular duck.
“I’m curious to start the weekend here because last year we weren’t competitive,” he continued. “Though finally on the last day I had a good result [Ed - he finished fifth], but Ducati has never won here.
“Jack was always competitive on it in the past years but other years we have always been missing something - now we can demonstrate if our potential is to be in front.
“It will be a different weekend, we don’t test here, the forecast says it will rain tomorrow. Yesterday during the track walk, the track was very dirty - we have to be prepared for anything.”
Bagnaia picked up a maximum haul of 37 points for his two victories in Portugal last weekend, giving him an early 12 point advantage in the standings over Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales.