Ducati’s MotoGP Champion Pecco Bagnaia heads into the opening round of 2023 as the favourite to hold onto the number one plate.
After a strong showing across preseason testing, and a dominant end to last year’s action, Bagnaia’s name was unanimous across the paddock as the man to beat. 21 rounds and 42 races awaiting the Italian as his title defence begins in confident style.
“I’m really happy about our preseason because one year ago we were in trouble at the start of the season but this year everything went perfect,” Bagnaia confirmed on Thursday. “We learned from our mistakes so we started better, the new bike suits better my riding style so as soon as I tried in Malaysia, I was feeling great with it. So everything was perfect, everything went well.
“I was missing a bit of edge grip and turning last year,” he admitted. “The bike was a mix of things - because the 2023 bike wasn’t working well so we had to make a step back. It was for sure very competitive bike but I was missing something that this year the engineers work a lot to give to me. Is helping me to have more corner speed and more turning on the fast corners and it was something that I was asking.
“As soon as I tried in Malaysia I was feeling already better. Here, was an incredible step in front we did compare last year.
“Here, in the test we had time to improve our situation, our pace for the race,” Bagnaia continued. “So in this moment is quite clear that we are in a better position compared to last but I’m quite sure that Yamaha with Fabio [Quartararo] in the last days have done an incredible step in front. Marc [Marquez] I think finished his job on the new bike so will be in front, like the Aprilias, like Ducati with Enea [Bastianini]. Many contenders for sure for the first race, but we have to see with the new schedule which one would be in the front from the start of the weekend.”
Back-to-back championship success is the goal for the 26-year-old, sealing his place amongst some illustrious names in the MotoGP history books.
“Since I remember, was just Marc and Vale have repeated the title,” he said of both his current rival and Academy mentor, Valentino Rossi. “So it’s something that for sure I’m working a lot at home and here to do. Having number one is something to respect, something to give the maximum to continue using. I’m sure that all the others here want to steal this number from my plate but I’m quite sure that if we work well, if we do everything okay, everything in a good way, we can defend the title. Will not be easy, but we are there.”