Christina Bulpett |
Image: GeeBee Pictures
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi made the figure of a proud father at MotorLand Aragón on Sunday after Pecco Bagnaia took his first MotoGP victory in breathtaking style.
The Petronas man expected and fulfilled a difficult race on one of his worst tracks on the calendar – he finished 19th and only ahead of his younger brother Luca Marini – but quickly failed to focus on the positive story of the day, the success of his protégé.
“First of all I would like to say that I am really happy for Pecco,” said Rossi proudly. “First of all personally, because I am a good friend of Pecco and we spend a lot of time together on weekends, at home during the week. So I have to say my congratulations because the first MotoGP victory is a moment that a motorcyclist never forgets.
“Even such a win with a fight to the last lap is something great. I think he deserved it because he was very fast all year and did a fantastic job with Ducati. Yesterday I said to him ‘is the moment, is the moment to win’ because he is always very fast, but sometimes he was unlucky with the tires, but today the time has come.
“I try to hypnotize him yesterday to tell him hard / soft, hard / soft, hard / soft because sometimes Pecco makes a strange choice about the tires and I saw him this morning and said another time!
“I’m very happy for him and, secondly, I’m also very proud of the work of [VR46] Academy because we’re taking Pecco out of Moto3 and we’re helping Pecco get to that level, and we’re very, very proud of the Academy. In the end, your fate is in your own hands because you have to be a strong driver but we are very proud to help him reach that level. It’s great for Italy too, because Pecco’s victory with the Ducati is something fantastic.
“I’ve seen a bit in the highlights and seen a fantastic fight, but Pecco always stays in front. He rode the bike fantastic on Friday morning and was also very quick at Silverstone. This is the moment, the moment to win and I’m very happy for him because first of all he’s a great guy. And I am very happy.”
While running behind throughout the AragónGP, Rossi spent much of the 23-lap race near his former teammate and now Aprilia rider, Maverick Vinales, with the Italian already seeing the potential of the new partnership.
“I saw Maverick improve a lot during the race. He had quite good pace in the second half, not far from the guys, and was able to improve. I don’t speak to Maverick directly, but I hear he had problems braking, braking, and breaking in. In fact, he has a bit of a problem with Aprilia in this area, but I think the bike has good potential and Maverick is a top rider so I think he will be very strong in the next few races. “