Marco Bezzecchi: The title? “After Malaysia I will think about a target”

Marco Bezzecchi warns ‘last year was fantastic, but every year is different’ as VR46 unveil new 2024 Pertamina MotoGP colours.

Marco Bezzecchi
Marco Bezzecchi

With only two riders ahead of him in last year’s world championship, if Marco Bezzecchi continues his MotoGP trajectory the VR46 rider will be firmly in the 2024 title fight.

After all, Bezzecchi made a massive leap from 14th in his rookie season to 3rd, and three Grand Prix wins, last year.

But MotoGP is not that simple.

Not only are his rivals also working flat out to improve but, as in any motorsport, much depends on machinery.

“Last year I learned to work in the best way possible, but also in the shortest time possible,” Bezzecchi said, referring to the new race weekend format.

“Also, I improved my riding style, how to manage the tyres and the braking. So I'm very happy with this.

“I also have a bit more experience compared to last year.

“But as always in sports, and in MotoGP especially, you can never stop improving. I can't ‘sit on the chair’. I have to continue working.”

With only a first taste of the Desmosedici GP23 at last November’s Valencia test, the mechanical side is very much at the forefront of Bezzecchi’s mind ahead of the opening 2024 outing at Sepang next month.

The Italian may have been third fastest and top Ducati at Valencia, but he is yet to unlock the secrets of a bike that finished first and second in last year’s championship with Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin.

I had just one day of riding with the new bike, which is quite different from the bike that I had last season,” Bezzecchi said at Wednesday’s VR46 team launch.

“It’s a very competitive bike of course, the GP23 won the World Championship so it’s a fantastic bike for sure. I just need more time to understand better how to ride and how to use the maximum potential of the bike.”

Factory star, good friend and reigning double champion Bagnaia often spoke of the GP23 having good grip but requiring a different kind of corner-entry technique.

“[The difference is] nothing crazy compared to my last year’s bike, but when you get used to riding in a certain way then it's difficult always to change, even if the change is very little,” Bezzecchi explained.

“I rode the 2021 bike during my first year in MotoGP. Then last year I jumped on the 2022 and the difference was [small].

“Then in Valencia test I jumped on the 2023 and the difference was a bit bigger [than GP21 to GP22].

“In Valencia, I felt some positives. But also some points that I needed to improve, especially on my riding because the bike needed a different manoeuvre from me… I was missing some steps.

“So because of this, I can't wait to ride in Malaysia, a track I really like. I want to see how I feel with the new bike and try to go away from there with positive feelings.”

And until he’s completed those three days at Sepang, Bezzecchi is reluctant to set any goals.

“For sure last year was fantastic, but every year is different. This year there are some changes on the grid and we didn't even make the first test, so I would like to wait to give myself a target.

“Of course, after last year, I want also to make again good races or even better.

“But, for the moment I’m trying to stay calm and be focused on testing. Try to learn the bike. Try to put myself comfortable on the bike and then after Malaysia I will think about a target for myself.”

Marco Bezzecchi
Marco Bezzecchi

One area where ‘Bez’ is confident the GP23 will be better is the starts, with Bagnaia and Martin receiving a holeshot device update during the second half of last season.

“Well, the [start] device is of course a bit different compared to the one that I had last year, so surely it will be something that will give an advantage,” Bezzecchi said of an improved holeshot system that visibly drops the bike closer to the ground.

“But it's not the bike that starts by itself. I need to improve. I need to work on the clutch. I need to try to improve myself because it was a weak point that I had last year.

“Step by step, I'm getting better. I'm sure that I will learn to start faster, but with this package for sure it will be a little bit better, I hope.”

The 25-year-old, who braved the pain of a late-summer collarbone fracture in training to ensure he didn’t miss any Grand Prix last season, is now back to full fitness but will carry extra ‘hardware’ with him throughout 2024.

The shoulder now is good. Still I have the plates and the screws inside. I think I will keep them all the season because I don't have time to remove them.

“The plates and everything need to stay inside for at least six months and six months from the operation is exactly when I start the championship! So I will have to ride all year with the plates inside.

“But apart from this, the shoulder now is working well. I tried again at the ranch. I tried again motocross and it's working fine.”

And is he concerned by Gigi Dall’Igna’s suggestion that the GP24 is a bigger technical step over the GP23 than previous evolutions?

“I don't know. Ask Pecco, Jorge or the factory riders [that have the GP24]! But for sure I will give my all to beat them!”

With Luca Marini leaving for Repsol Honda, Bezzecchi will be joined by Fabio di Giannantonio at Valentino Rossi’s VR46 team, with new title backing from Pertamina, in 2024.

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