Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia sits two points adrift of his MotoGP title rival as 2022 nears climax on Phillip Island.
Three races of the season remain as last year’s dominating pair prepare to go toe-to-toe once again. Fabio Quartararo still leads the standings but Bagnaia’s run of form across the summer, including a return to the Thai podium following a disastrous Japanese GP, saw him reduce the deficit from 91 points to just two.
The Italian has had just one prior appearance at the Island in the premier class but with a fourth place finish already to his name, he’s looking forward to a return.
“Yeah, very looking forward to ride here, is one of my favourite tracks,” Bagnaia said of the 4.5km layout. “I think that for everybody is the same because it's wonderful to race here.
“In 2019 was my best race in the calendar and I enjoyed a lot racing here. So let's see. I think that our potential now is so much higher.
“With the new fairing, the handling of the bike in circumstances like this track can help a lot,” he continued of his 2022 progress. “More than the bike, I think I improved more myself from 2019. I think that the biggest difference is the handling of our bike because the bike is more or less, the chassis is the same. So not too many changes apart from the front fairing, that already this year have helped us a lot in fast corners so I think that in this track will help us more.
“Now it's like we are starting the championship,” the Italian said of the intensifying fight. “We are five riders with the possibility to win the title. For sure, Me and Fabio have more possibility because we are more in front but also Aleix [Espargaro] is not so far and we already know that this year everything can change so also Enea [Bastianini] and Jack [Miller] have a possibility. So let's see. Let's see, I think our potential is very high. We are in a good moment so we have to use it.”
Bagnaia has another bonus in his corner this weekend with former Ducati rider Casey Stoner on hand at Phillip Island. The pair walked the track on Thursday afternoon with the Australian MotoGP Legend keen to impart his prior knowledge of his home circuit.
“Today, I speak a bit with Casey and for sure it's very important to try to take an advantage from him,” Bagnaia confirmed. “For sure is the best way possible to learn something from him in this track so I will try to understand everything.”