Francesco Bagnaia sits down with in Texas during the Americas MotoGP race weekend to talk about how he's adapting to life in Moto2, being back in the Sky Racing Team VR46 camp and why the Mahindra Moto3 bike wasn't as bad as people told him.

Bagnaia has begun his rookie Moto2 campaign in 2017 with Sky Racing Team VR46 after stepping up from Moto3 after finishing fourth in last year's championship with Aspar Mahindra.

Despite just missing out on points in Texas with a 16th place finish, Bagnaia is 11th in the Moto2 championship standings after three rounds and joint-top rookie with Fabio Quartararo.
Hi Francesco, why 'Pecco'

Francesco Bagnaia:
When I was very young my sister Carole called me 'Pecco' and the name stuck - it's her fault.
Do you feel that the improvement you have made in the first two races of the season is real rather than coming from random factors [interview conducted before Texas race]?

Francesco Bagnaia:
Yes, I think it is real. In every session that I've been on the bike I have made progress forwards, right from the first session at Qatar to now. That's an important feeling to get I think.

We have been working so much with the settings of the bike and for example when I made the step forwards at Argentina I knew why it happened.

Now [after FP2 at Texas], I feel that I've got a bike that I feel comfortable with. For me the front end is the most important and that is making good progress. I'm quite aggressive on the brakes and maybe only Morbidelli brakes later than me but my style also means that I have more corner speed than other riders and we've now got a good setting for that.
Do you come from a motorbiking family?

Francesco Bagnaia:
Yes, but not at a high level, when I was little I went to GP's with my father and uncle and that led me to trying a Minicross race when I was 6 years old. My father wasn't actually a racer.

He supports my racing and helps me but his main function seems to be to keep me calm at races. I get a bit agitated at races and he helps to keep me on the level. It's not that I'm too nervous on the grid or anything it's just that I can get over-excited. I think that other riders are a little more nervous than me and I can actually enjoy that nervy feeling.
How did you get the attention of Sky Racing Team VR46?

Francesco Bagnaia:
It was in 2013 when I was with team Italia and when I was at Philip Island I got the call from Uccio to talk about a possible place in the team and taking part in the VR46 Riders Academy. I think what they are doing is great for Italian riders because we get help in all ways.

I feel that the VR46 organisation is almost like some competition to the Spanish Catalonian system.
You first joined the VR46 team, then went to Mahindra for 2 years and then returned to Sky Racing Team VR46, why was that?

Francesco Bagnaia:
At the end of 2014 I felt that I needed a change and went to Mahindra. It was that move that helped me to understand how to push a bike right to the limit. I think it was what I learned at Mahindra that has allowed me to make the move to Moto2 and there is no better team to make the move with than Sky Racing Team VR46.

The team has changed a lot since 2014 and I would say that it almost seems like a new team and I feel better now than then.
So why did you leave in 2014?

Francesco Bagnaia:
I think I just didn't feel so comfortable on the KTM and when I tried the Mahindra I found it easier to be competitive.
But most people seem to think that the Mahindra isn't as competitive as the KTM or Honda...

Francesco Bagnaia:
It's true that the Mahindra is a bit slower on the straights because of the engine but it has a really, really, really good chassis and that year was important for me to understand how to make a bike fast in the corners as well as the straights.

Overall I can't agree when people say that the Mahindra isn't as good as the other bikes, after all I made 7 podiums and 2 victories and you don't do that on a bad bike.

Perhaps the bike suited my style better because with the KTM it was so difficult for me to close the lines and with the Mahindra it was much better. All I can say is I tried both and I preferred the Mahindra.
Perhaps it is good for your career to do well on a bike which is seen as less competitive like Bradley Smith did on the Tech3 or Sam Lowes on the Speed Up?

Francesco Bagnaia:
Yes, it's true but I feel it was a question of the rider's style more than anything. People may think that some bikes are less competitive but it is the rider's style which is the most important thing.

Also as I said before, riding a bike like that taught me a lot about pushing a bike to the limit and it's that which has made me feel maybe a bit more comfortable on the Moto2 bike than other riders.
So many people who did well in Moto3 have had difficulty in Moto2, what is your perspective?

Francesco Bagnaia:
Honestly I don't know why except that there may be so much to learn on a bigger bike. It is particularly the amount of work you have to do with the settings that makes it difficult.

Perhaps I am lucky with the team I've got because I don't feel that there is too much to learn for me and every time I go out on the bike I feel more balanced and comfortable.

In some ways the Moto2 bike is actually easier to ride than the Moto3 so for example in the braking zone the Moto2 bike feels easier to manage than the Moto3.
Some people have said that you weren't ready to make the move to Moto2, how do you feel?

Francesco Bagnaia:
From my point of view, after my last year at Mahindra I definitely felt ready to change categories and now after trying the Moto2 I feel the same.

The race that we are about to do is perhaps a bit more difficult for a rookie but in general I am always closer to the front and at the moment I am only 0.9 seconds from the leader. That's not a lot of time but of course in Moto2 everybody has the same engine so that can be a lot of places.

In Moto2, because it's so close, it is really important to make a perfect lap every time because a small mistake can put you down to 20th.

My objective before the year was to be in the top ten and to be rookie of the year and so far it's looking good to achieve that [Bagnaia currently sits 11th and joint-top rookie with Fabio Quartararo after the Texas race].

In general I think that Moto2 is a great and fair category and teaches a rider well how to understand a bike and move to MotoGP. For me the power of a Moto2 bike isn't excessive so when people talk about introducing electronics I'm not sure. I think it can stay as it is.
Do you do a lot of practice with the great Valentino Rossi?

Francesco Bagnaia:
Yes I do quite a lot, either at the ranch or at Misano with the academy. So far I haven't beaten him but other riders like Baldassarri or Morbidelli have beaten him at the ranch. He's a really difficult man to beat.
Thanks Pecco

Francesco Bagnaia:
No problem.


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