Pecco Bagnaia headed an all-Ducati front row with his second home podium in as many months for Misano’s Emilia Romagna GP.
Having missed out on direct promotion during the morning’s tricky FP3, Bagnaia dominated qualifying from the outset of Q1. Repeatedly claiming the premier position, he progressed into Q2 seventh-tenths ahead of his closest rival, Tech3 KTM’s Iker Lecuona, before repeating the masterclass in the final shootout.
His fastest effort, 1’33.045 held off Lenovo teammate Jack Miller by just 0.025s at the flag with Avintia VR46 rider Luca Marini joining the Desmosedici celebrations, much to the delight of the Rimini fans, on the front row for the Italian duo’s second home GP.
“I’m very happy, was not easy,” Bagnaia said from the paddock on Saturday. “This morning, my feeling on wet was okay, I was feeling great. I started with used tyres but when we put new tyres, I started struggling a lot. I overheated too much the rear tyre and was very difficult to have traction, so I didn’t manage to be in the top 10.
“But then, in this condition I think is maybe better to be in the Q1, because in FP4 I was feeling great. I was doing laps, and the consistency was okay. Then in Q1 I just tried to do all the session, riding, and the confidence was every lap better, so my feeling was okay. In Q2 I just tried to set a good time, I was not thinking it was enough, because in the second time attack I was struggling a bit more, but finally yes, so I’m very happy. Is the best way to finish this Saturday in front of our fans so for me it’s a great day.
“I will like!” The Italian answered when pitched the suggestion of replicating his start from last month’s first Misano race in tomorrow’s outing.
“Will be not easy, also tomorrow morning I think will be wet because it’s raining now. We haven’t tried medium front or make many laps with used tyres, so would be very difficult. But I think that with the work done last week, also in the test - the last day of test was more cold than the weekend - maybe we are prepared.
“I think that the only possibility that I have is trying to push from the start,” he continued. “Trying to open a gap and then trying to control this gap - will not be easy. For sure Jack will be very strong, Luca have a great possibility, starting from front row. The only thing that I’m happy is that are two Ducatis, so will be nice to see. Let’s see what will happen tomorrow.”
Bagnaia needs to score three points more than his rival in Sunday’s 27-lap race to keep his championship hopes alive - which in their usual podium-battling scenario would mean a win - but the challenge may have been made a touch easier after his title-rival qualified down in 15th. Especially with the brace of Desmosedici’s he has around him at the head of the grid.
“I was needing to push if he was starting P2, and I think I have to push the same now that he’s 15,” the 24-year-old said on Fabio Quartararo’s unexpected qualifying. “Because the only thing that I can do to leave open the championship is trying to win tomorrow, and this exactly will be the same if Fabio were starting more in front.
“I don’t know Fabio’s mindset in this moment,” he continued. “For me, the only thing that I can do is try to win. Just because my possibility to leave open this championship is this. So I tried all, Fabio, for sure will be strong and will come back but I’m just thinking on myself, and I will try to stay in front. I know that will not be easy, because like I said before, we didn’t do so many laps with used tyres, so will be very difficult and very tricky. Also we have to look at the conditions. Because if today is raining, tonight it will rain, and tomorrow morning will be wet, to dry will take a lot of time, the track. So let’s see, I will try all to try to do a good race.
“Last time Jack was very competitive at the start, I opened this gap in the first two laps but then he was closing it,” he said of his garage mate and front row partner’s performance in the San Marino GP.
“Then I don’t know what happened but he was very competitive. I don’t know Luca, if will be strong on the race tomorrow but he looks like today he was very, very competitive. I would like to have a fight with other Ducatis and I think that is possible if we do a good job to go away after six, seven laps. I hope that my rival will be Jack.”
Miller having also commented how aware he is of the team and championship situation and how ‘common sense’ will prevail despite team orders so far not being specified.