Christina Bulpett |
Picture: GeeBee Images
While the timesheets may not reflect it, Friday at Mandalika was ‘the best day’ of the 2022 season so far for Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia.
Yellow flags prevented the Italian from capitalizing on his hot laps as the afternoon MotoGP practice came to a close, Marc Marquez and Enea Bastianini crashing out in quick succession, but Bagnaia was far from down in the post-action debrief.
“I’m happy that we’ve done a really good job today,” he started, somewhat unexpectedly.
“Is the best day of the year since the start of the season, also from the test, so I’m very happy about my feeling with the bike. Finally!
“We were just a bit unlucky,” he explained on concluding the opening day in Indonesia 21st in the combined times. “I found the two yellow flags of Marquez and Bastianini so I didn’t do a time attack, but in any case, the pace with the medium, doing laps I was second and my pace was very strong. So I’m very happy about that.
“Compared to the test I feel so much better on the bike and also compare Qatar day one and day two, the same,” Bagnaia continued. “I feel better, I can brake, I can be constant and my feeling with the front is back and I’m very happy about that. I also like the new tires that they bring here because they are more stable for me so I prefer.
“I didn’t touch anything from Qatar,” he said by way of explanation of his turn around. “Just riding, just understanding how to do different things on this track but the feeling today was very good. Was the first time this year that with used tires I was in the top three – because I was second and the pace was very competitive. So about that I’m very happy.
“Compared Qatar, we started to don’t touch anymore the bike from the FP4 and since then, we didn’t touch anything. I’m just adapting me on the bike again, like I was doing the second part of last season. So this is automatic [feeling] that I need to have again, because like I said in the last race, touching too much put me on a situation where I was trying to adapt in different situation. So it wasn’t easy.
From that moment, we started to don’t touch anything and now my feeling is back with the front, I can brake like last year, I can enter like last year, can manage the tires like last year so it’s easier to work like this .”
Bagnaia’s preseason visit had been quite an ordeal with the asphalt tearing up and the Italian showcasing the bruises to prove it, after running in the slipstream of his rivals. The past five weeks has seen resurfacing taking place on a quarter of the circuit, to so far mixed reviews.
“Sincerely I didn’t follow anyone today,” he said of the return, “so I don’t know if is better for that but the feeling with the new asphalt is okay. I like it, is a bit worse in the braking. I don’t know why, but I think just because I need to rubber a bit. In the exit is better but also the mix of the two asphalt is okay. It’s not a big problem. There is no bump so you can be very, very smooth in everything and constant, so it’s okay.
“If will be wet tomorrow morning, will not be easy,” he continued, focusing on his current predicament from the bottom of the timesheets, with rain showers forecast for Saturday. “I really hope to have the possibility to do just one time attack because I lost the possibility with the two yellow flags today. I think that the potential of us today was very high again and was to enter in the top ten but if it will be wet will be not easy to enter. It’s not always easy to start in Q1 with the rain tires but if you can have the possibility of staying in the first two in the Q1 you have more advantage on the Q2 for sure if it’s wet. But we have to wait tomorrow.”