After securing his sixth podium finish in the last seven races at Buriram, Bagnaia is now within touching distance of taking over from Fabio Quartararo as the leader in the MotoGP standings for the first time in his career.

Bagnaia’s pace on day-one at Phillip Island was strong while not spectacular, although the potential shown in sector four which leads onto the longest straight of the circuit was very promising. 

Not the only MotoGP rider to struggle with the ferocious winds, Bagnaia felt improvements were made as both practice sessions went on, while his time attack pace, which has so often been the best of any rider over the last two years, left him slightly unhappy come the end of play.

Speaking after the opening day, Bagnaia added: "This morning I was struggling with the wind. Then we did something with the set-up which helped me a lot in the second and third exit and I improved my pace a lot. I was quite happy. 

"This afternoon, the wind was even worse and maybe for my setting or my riding style I was struggling a bit. Then we made another step in front on my third exit, with used tyres and did a good pace. 

"But in the time attack I didn’t do a very good lap time. It’s true that I’m quite happy with the feeling I had in the last part of FP2 before putting in the new tyres for the time attack, but not so happy for the time attack. 

"I see that in sector one and sector three I am so [far] behind and sector four I’m so [far] in front. It’s quite strange. 

"But we already know where we need to improve and this is something that can help us understand what to do better."

Despite a blip at Motegi when he crashed out on the final lap when attempting to overtake Quartararo, Bagnaia has been the most in-form rider since Assen and has therefore put himself in perfect position to claim Ducati’s first world title since 2007. 

The Ducati rider has also claimed the most wins so far this season with six - two more than future team-mate Enea Bastianini who is on four. 

A slight problem for Bagnaia is that Ducati have not won at Phillip Island since 2010 when Casey Stoner took victory.

With that said, Ducati have shown to be much stronger at their so-called ‘weaker circuits’ in 2021 and 2022 in particular. 

Like Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro, both of whom finished ahead of the Italian during FP2, every race counts with just three to go, which is why Bagnaia conceded ‘everyone has to risk’ from now onwards.

"I have to risk like him [Quartararo]," stated Bagnaia. "Everyone has to risk in this moment because it is so important to be in front. 

"These two races are not the best for our bike but we already demonstrated in tracks where we were slow last year that we were competitive this year. 

"Let’s see [what happens] and in any case I will do the same of the past weeks. I’m trying to do the best possible and not think too much on the championship. It is a moment to attack."