Despite a relatively quiet preseason, Ducati’s Pecco Bagnaia heads into the 2022 MotoGP Championship as a firm favourite for the title.
Having run under the radar for the majority of the five days of testing, both at Sepang in Malaysia and Mandalika in Indonesia, Bagnaia concluded both outings sixth overall in the combined and increasingly tight times.
“Finally we found a compromise that I like so I think that in Qatar we will start well,” Bagnaia said of his preseason test programme.
“Is difficult to say something about who was the fastest because today the worst tyre was the medium but was the only one they will take in the weekend - because they will not take this soft for the race weekend. Just me, Marini and Bezzecchi were trying the race simulation with the medium and was really difficult to do more laps because was slippery and was sliding a lot. The soft was for sure better and all the others were using soft.
“Looking at my pace when I was with soft is very close to the fastest one but today was very important to do more laps with medium, to understand the tyre, to understand the condition. Today it was very hot because there were 62 degrees on the asphalt so the pace was not so bad considering the medium.”
Last season’s runner up spent the majority of the past week’s available track time getting up to speed with the new GP22 alongside a raft of Bologna riders, and with six of the eight Ducati riders running the updated spec, there were a lot of hands on deck. The Italian, however, is quick to comment that the change in bike is taking some time to adjust.
“I’m very happy to have done a good last part of last year and to be with the other Ducati riders working on this new project” he explained from Lombok on Sunday. “All together we are doing a good job because everyone are trying something different and every time we have work that are more close.
“Is different because are two different types of engine, type of bike,” he continued. “So you need to change something on your riding style. In these days I was concentrating on it and finally understand better in the last day here how to do it. I did a lot of laps in this test to understand better everything. I did 210 laps. Finally, I found how to go quick with this bike just for one lap. For the constant pace this bike is okay but I was struggling a bit on doing time attack so I'm happy that today everything was a bit clearer, a bit more easy.”
With Bagnaia storming to the front in the latter part of 2021 and challenging eventual champion Fabio Quartararo into the final races, the Ducati rider heads into the new year as favourite for the title, especially with the new Desmosedici at his disposal.
“I feel great but I'm sure that I'm not the only one,” he commented on being title favourite. “For sure there are a lot. For me, I'm not the favourite just because I didn't win last year, Fabio won so I think that there are more than one favourite for the title.
“I think that the strength of our bike is the same of last year more or less, is the braking, the entry and acceleration for sure. I think that this bike have more potential than the last season bike.
“I hope that in Qatar the condition will be okay,” Bagnaia admitted, looking ahead to next month’s inaugural race. “Because normally when we start the test is not good. Every time there's a lot of sand in the track, on the line and is difficult in the first laps but we will start with all the categories so will be okay. I hope that will help us to find something more, something that I want on our bike.
“For Qatar I don't know which one will be the most difficult rival but I think Honda have done a good job, Suzuki too, Aprilia too and us too. So for me will be nice.”