Bagnaia: ‘Second position was not allowed’, VR46 academy ‘incredible’

New MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia has credited the VR46 academy for making a huge difference in his career, and that the level of its riders is ‘incredible.
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Valencia
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Valencia

Bagnaia became the first Italian MotoGP champion since Valentino Rossi in 2009 at the Valencian Grand Prix on Sunday, while also becoming the first Italian to win on an Italian bike since Giacomo Agostini did so in 1972. 

Despite losing downforce aboard his GP22 machine following contact with title rival Fabio Quartararo that led to his front right winglet snapping off, Bagnaia managed to come across the line in tenth place at Valencia, while Quartararo, who needed to win in order to have any chance of retaining his crown was fourth. 

Although Bagnaia faced a different kind of pressure to that of Le Mans, Aragon, Misano and Sepang when he was trying to hold off Enea Bastianini for victory, the Ducati rider alluded to those previous experiences as reasons why he was able to remain calm during Sunday’s race, despite being overtaken by several riders.

Asked if he’s a rider that can handle pressure - something he buckled under at various points in the last two years - Bagnaia added: "I think that the race in Le Mans has helped me to understand that. Because in Le Mans I was riding under pressure from Enea and I committed big mistakes, going wide in turn seven; I don’t remember well the number of the corner. 

"This year I was always under a lot of pressure from behind. Enea was twice behind me and trying to overtake. 

"To manage the situation perfectly I was knowing that a second position was not allowed. I tried to improve myself on that and we did it. 

"It’s the worst situation possible when you have someone behind on the last-lap and you can’t commit any mistakes. It’s the situation where you can easily lose your concentration. But I think we worked well and also the ranch. 

"A win every Sunday at the ranch is very important. I never won at the ranch but every weekend I fight with other riders and we put a lot of pressure on us. This can help us."

VR46 academy ‘incredible’, says MotoGP champion Bagnaia

Bagnaia has been part of Rossi’s VR46 academy since 2015 and along with Franco Morbidelli is the only rider to have won a world title while representing the brand. 

Francesco Bagnaia MotoGP race, Valencia MotoGP. 6 November
Francesco Bagnaia MotoGP race, Valencia MotoGP. 6 November

Speaking about the influence that the VR46 academy has had, Bagnaia credited the professionalism and dedication from those in charge to give all its world championship riders the best chance to succeed. 

"It’s not just [about] the influence of Valentino, but all the guys and all the people working for us at home," stated Bagnaia. "At the start it was a totally different academy. It was a big help for sure, but at this moment we are very professional. 

"We have everything and we can say to them that we want to go with the mini bikes to a track and they have everything to do it. If we want to go to Portimao to have a test before the season, then they organise everything to do it. 

"It is incredible the help they are giving. They are giving all their life, their passion to us and this is incredible. This is the first title in MotoGP for the academy, it’s the third in general after Franky in Moto2 and me in Moto2. 

"But if we look at the performance of every rider in the academy - unfortunately in Moto3 and Moto2 we had a little problem, but if we analyse the performance in MotoGP then we can see that all the riders in the academy are incredible. 

"At home we push each other to improve ourselves. When I look at Franky in 2020 doing the runner-up in the championship with three wins, it was like a reference to me. 

"It was like something to beat. And this helped me a lot to improve myself. I want to say thank you to the academy."

Read More