The Mugello winner, who narrowly missed out on yet another MotoGP pole, will start behind pre-race favourite Aleix Espargaro

The Aprilia rider has been nothing short of sensational so far this weekend, however, having the best race pace is unlikely to be enough on its own. 

That’s why Bagnaia, who conceded that Espargaro is a step ahead of the rest, believes he can challenge for victory if he plays his cards right.

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"I was very close to doing another pole position but this weekend Aleix [Espargaro] is really strong, like all the other weekends, but this weekend more," said Bagnaia. 

"I don’t know how to beat him but I think the key is to be smart with the rear tyre. It’s true that you can go fast in the beginning of the race but then you have to be constant at the end of the race. 

"If you push early you won’t be constant at the finish of the race. It will be a race of survival because you have to be very smart on the acceleration."

Jack Miller to KTM moves closer - Bagnaia wishes the Australian ‘all the luck’ 

With Jack Miller rumoured to be very close to joining KTM, Francesco Bagnaia has admitted that he wants a team-mate just like the 2014 Moto3 runner-up. 

The two have been teammates since 2019 when they signed for Pramac and since then it’s been one of the strongest pairings in terms of results, but also how they work in the garage. 

Speaking about the anticipated news that Miller will leave Ducati, Bagnaia added: "For me, it was great to have Jack [Miller] because we formed a group inside the team. It’s something I really need and really want. 

"We worked together from 2019 and from that moment it was the start of our relationship. We worked great in the box and we talked a lot of times. We speak a lot during the weekend about tyres, about everything. 

"I would like to have the same relationship in the future and who will be my team-mate will understand that. 

"For me, if we want to go fast and we want to improve then we have to be close and have a good relationship. I want to wish all the luck to Jack in his future." 

Espargaro ‘really riding the limit’ en route to second MotoGP pole of 2022

While Espargaro may have dominated FP2, 3 and 4, things appeared much tougher in qualifying as challenges from Bagnaia and MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo left the Aprilia rider on the limit. 

Still, Espargaro delivered!

"It was a very, very hard qualifying," Espargaro said. "I would say that it’s the most difficult qualifying lap I’ve done so far this season because the track was super slippery. 

"I was not sure I could go underneath the time I set this morning. In FP3 it came quite easy actually. I used just one soft rear tyre. 

"Qualifying was very, very slippery and I didn’t really enjoy the lap because I lost the front a couple of times. I also had a lot of highsides so I was really riding the limit of the bike." 

Like Bagnaia, Espargaro made changes for FP4, and while subtle, it helped the man who’s second in the championship feel ‘happy’ with the results. 

Espargaro and Aprilia tinkered with electronic settings in order to try and reduce how much tyre degradation could play a factor.

"Normally, 90% of the races are won by the fastest rider, but here in Barcelona it’s not that easy," claimed Espargaro. "It’s not about going fast. I can go very, very fast but you have to manage the rear tyre. 

"It’s a bit frustrating because there is a certain moment when you can do nothing. You accelerate and just wait for the bike to go because the traction control is stopping you a lot, a lot. 

"In FP4 I tried a different electronics setting to see if I lost a lot of time, but we are quite happy with the results. The pace I did was quite strong. 

"Tomorrow is about finding the thin line between speed and consumption [degradation] of the rear tyre."