Francesco Bagnaia: This is where the best MotoGP riders make a difference | MotoGP

Ducati’s reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia believes the rider still makes the difference and that there are several areas that highlight the best of the best.

“I think that the bike makes a big difference because they are all so competitive, but this equivalence changes considering how much traction control and electronics you use,” Bagnaia said.

“I think the rider can do a big, big difference in terms of time attack, in terms of tire consumption, in terms of braking. So the rider is the one making the difference on the bike and it’s quite clear in the last years if you look at the results.

“Marc [Marquez] was the only one winning with Honda. Casey [Stoner] was the only one winning with Ducati. Vale [Rossi] was always in front of every era of his career, also when the Yamaha wasn’t so competitive. In the last two years, I was always in the front, finishing second and first.”

The two areas of a race weekend highlighted by Bagnaia as the clearest indicators of rider performance are: “The time attack and tire consumption in a race, because you have to be very smart, ride very smooth.

“I think you can understand the level of a rider from the time attack and after 15 laps of a race.”

Bagnaia: New Ducati ‘not a revolution’

Underlining the importance of the rider, Bagnaia admitted he had initially been a ‘bit lost’ with the scale of the changes made to Ducati’s GP22 and backed-up Dall’Igna’s comments that the factory will take a more conservative approach to development with this year’s bike.

“My confidence with Gigi and trust in all the engineers is at 100%. So if they decide to do something I will go for it,” Bagnaia said. “But last year sincerely was a bit tough because the 2021 bike was incredible.

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“[But] when I started the test with the [GP22] bike, I was a bit lost because the things that I was doing better the year before were impossible to replicate. So I asked in Qatar [final test and first race] to return as much as possible to the old bike, and in that moment we started working so much better.

“In any case, that was two years [of development arriving] with the same bike [due to the end of the Covid technical freeze]so all the ideas in two years were on that bike and it needed time.”

After taking his first victory of the season in round six, Bagnaia – who like team-mate Jack Miller had homologated a last-minute mix of the 2021 and 2022 engine parts – went on to hunt down and pass Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo to clinch his and Dall’Igna’s first premier-class crown.

Speaking of the new GP23, Bagnaia said: “This year is not a revolution, it’s just a little evolution of last year’s bike and I’m confident. We tried it in Valencia and for the first approach it was good, what better already. “

Bagnaia will join his rivals in official pre-season tests at Sepang and Portimao before starting his title defense at the Portuguese circuit in late March.

“It will be very difficult to defend the number one, but I’m here for that because it’s true I won a title, but I don’t feel satisfied with it,” he said. “I feel that I want many more and I want to continue pushing to be competitive, to be in front and to work to be better every year, in every race.

“So I will try to defend it and I’m sure that, if everything will be okay, we can be in the front.”