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MotoGP Assen: ‘Best possible start’ the key to success for Bagnaia’s race

Ducati’s Pecco Bagnaia will start the DutchGP from the front row after qualifying third at the TT Circuit Assen this afternoon. 

Seeming to struggle throughout preparations for round eight’s 26-lap race, Bagnaia had not placed higher than 11th in any of the practice sessions this weekend before arriving on the front row in the closing moments of Saturday’s qualifier. His 1’32.116 final lap was just three-tenths behind pole-man Maverick Viñales with the Italian confident of a good showing come race day. 

"We were not expecting to have this type of struggle this weekend,” Bagnaia admitted from Parc Fermé. 


“Our bike is very difficult to manage in the fast corners because it’s shaking a lot and it's very difficult to enter in fast corners. But then, after yesterday, we did a reset this morning, and I started trying to do something different on the bike. From this morning to the Q2, I did some improvements on riding style and step by step, we were closer. 

“In FP4, my pace was not so bad, but looking at the pace of the Yamaha, it's five/six-tenths slower, so we need to do another step for tomorrow. I know that my team is already working to find something. 

“I had the luck today to do the Q1 - because in Q1 I found something that helped me in Q2. So, for the first time I think that was a good thing - first of all because I passed the Q1, but then to have helped me to enter fast in the fast corners, so I'm happy about that.

“Every time, we are missing something. In Sachsenring, I had the pace to fight for the podium or to fight for a win but we started in P10. Then for the first six laps my rear tyre wasn't working. Is something that sometimes can happen. We don't know why, but I think is the same thing for all the riders in MotoGP - sometimes you have a tyre that start to work after some laps, or not start to work. So after six laps, I start to have my pace and finally the last part of the race was very fast, like Marc or Miguel, but I was too far. Sometimes we are very fast, like in Portimao or like in Mugello - but in Mugello I did a mistake and in Portimao just a yellow flag, cancel to me the possibility to win. This time is a different story because my pace is good but not as the Yamaha one, so will be very difficult tomorrow. I will try to stop them in the first part of the race but then, will be very difficult to stay with them all the way. I will try all but let's wait.”

Johann Zarco has suggested Bagnaia is making the difference to get the Ducati to perform in the closing stages of the Dutch layout but the Italian doesn't completely agree.

“I think it's a mixture of things. I'm always faster in some corners like these ones, 13,14,15. I know that, maybe for the setting also, his bike is shaking more, and I can control it better. He's always faster than me this weekend in the sector three and I'm faster than him in sector four, and I think is just for the setting, and because I like more, corners like in the last sector, so I think that it is a mix of things."

Yamaha have dominated every session of the Assen weekend so far, with Viñales taking four to Fabio Quartararo’s one. With the steps taken this afternoon, does the VR46 Academy graduate think he has what it takes for tomorrow's battle? 

“I think that it will be very difficult to stop them,” he admitted. 

“We can overtake after the last chicane, but then it's very difficult to stay in front of them because, like in turn seven, they have more speed and to enter into turn eight, they can have a possibility to overtake us. All the track is more or less like this so, will be very difficult. 

“What we can do is start in the best way possible, because our start device is very good, and try to don't let them pass in the first laps where they have the extra grip of the new tyres. After that will be the same, very difficult because their pace is incredible but we can have more possibility.”

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