Bastianini only at ’70-75%’ with new Ducati

Enea Bastianini may have been a close fourth on the Sepang MotoGP test timesheets, but the new factory Ducati rider estimates he is only currently at 70-75% with the GP23.
Enea Bastianini, Sepang MotoGP test, 12 February
Enea Bastianini, Sepang MotoGP test, 12 February

As a satellite Gresini rider, Bastianini took early profit from the proven GP21, bursting out of the box with a sensational victory at last year’s Qatar season opener.

The Italian went on to win three races in the opening seven rounds before momentum finally turned in favour of the GP22, eventually taken to world championship glory by Francesco Bagnaia.

Now teamed with Bagnaia at the factory squad, Bastianini’s responsibilities are very different to one year ago. Not only must he help select the most promising parts but aid the engineers in maximising their performance.

With only one more test to go before the new season begins at Portimao, Bastianini knows he is unlikely to be at 100 percent for the opening round, but insists he won't be far off.

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“100% probably not, but 90-95% we can arrive,” he said. “At the moment we are in the 70-75%, we have to understand [more]. The new bike has a lot of potential, but to use this is not easy.”

Bastianini began the Sepang test by being faster on the 2022 bike on his way to third place on day one.

Like Bagnaia, he then became more comfortable on the GP23, especially in terms of the engine braking set-up, but throttle connection and power delivery remains an area of improvement.

“I’m happy,” Bastianini said. “This morning not too much! Was difficult to bring the confidence with the new bike. We worked a lot. I haven't stopped [for lunch], only to look at the data trying to resolve some problem because the new bike compared to the old one is different and was difficult for me.

“We have resolved a lot of problems. I think now I'm really confident and I can ride more soft, more easy. The throttle is not like the old bike for the moment, but the engine brake is now very close. We were fast in the last run and at the end I'm happy.

“I have spoken a lot with Pecco and our comments are so similar, especially in the riding style. When it’s like this it's easy to speak with the engineers to try to do something better and at the end we have made a good step in front.”

Enea Bastianini, Sepang MotoGP test 10-12 February
Enea Bastianini, Sepang MotoGP test 10-12 February

One of the main decisions to be taken during the final two-day test at Portimao will be over fairing choice for the GP23.

Ducati had both an updated version of its previous fairing, featuring ducts to direct air at the base of the lower fairing, plus an Aprilia style wide ‘ground-effect’ design.

“For the moment it’s not all clear, especially also the fairing and we have to try again in Portimao to understand which is better,” he said.

In terms of his own riding style, Bastianini – famous for his late-race pace last season - felt he made a step towards being more explosive in the early stages, a critical factor for the new Sprint races.

“We have started all three days with the used tyre and I wasn't really fast, but then when we have put the new one, my lap time was OK. I think it will not be a problem for the Sprint race and also for the qualifying. Probably we have resolved this problem!”

The Portimao test takes place from March 11-12.

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