Gresini’s Enea Bastianini is on a roll as he lands in Japan after victory and two consecutive MotoGP podiums.
Having battled to two photo-finishes alongside factory Ducati rider, and 2023 teammate Pecco Bagnaia in recent races, Bastianini is full of confidence with his GP21 as Mobility Resort Motegi welcomes the world championship for its first visit since 2019.
The last time the Italian saw the Japanese venue he was a rookie on a Moto2 bike, but with his strength on the premier class Ducati firmly on display this season, he remains a front-runner in everyones expectations.
"I’m very happy about last weekend in Aragon,” Bastianini said from the Motegi paddock. “It was one of the best weekends of my life, from Friday I was very fast and it was very important for us.
“Now it's Motegi, a beautiful track with lots of hard braking. I like it, but it will be hard as I never tried the MotoGP at this track.
“I have to use FP1 to learn from riders with experience here, like Marc [Marquez] and Taka [Nakagami]. It will be important to be competitive in qualifying, like always, because it is the key now to MotoGP.
“I don’t know if it is an advantage to have not tried a MotoGP bike here,” he continued. “From 2019 to now, MotoGP bikes are very different. It’s more aerodynamic, the rear device and this can change the cards on the table. I don’t remember a lot from 2019 in Moto2, it was my first year also but I’m prepared to start."
After four race wins in 2022, Bastianini sits 48 points adrift of reigning champion Fabio Quartararo in the title fight. With 125 points still up for grabs, the mathematics are possible but the challenge is substantial.
“I think my chances are really, really small,” he admitted. “I haven’t lost it for the moment, we will see what happens in the future. It is important to do great races like Aragon and Misano and I think after the summer break I have made a good step.
“This is the most important for us. I try to do my best every week to arrive at the end of the championship in a good position."
The biggest talking point after another epic duel in the closing stages with Bagnaia is of team orders in Ducati, but as yet, there is nothing in play.
“Also in Misano, I haven’t had any team orders from Ducati at the moment, and this is good because I also have a small chance at the championship,” the 24-year-old explained. “I have to use this to do always 100 per cent in the race. In the last part of the championship, we will see if I have some team orders or not. I’m not stressed now!”