Bagnaia primed for “intense days” before “final decision”

Francesco Bagnaia is honing in on deciding Ducati’s fairing for the start of the 2023 MotoGP season, the key call facing his team.
Francesco Bagnaia, Sepang MotoGP test, 12 February
Francesco Bagnaia, Sepang MotoGP test, 12 February

The 2022 Desmosedici was the best machinery on the grid and powered Bagnaia from a 91-point deficit to pip reigning champion Fabio Quartararo on the final day.

Ominously, Ducati are focused on getting off to a better start this season rather than being forced to mount another comeback.

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"We are now very close to the first race of the season, and so this test will be crucial,” said Bagnaia ahead of the preseason test in Portimao. 

“In Sepang, we managed to do a good job and bring the new bike to the same level as last year's. We are very close to being 100%, and I am sure we will be able to complete our work here. 

“Portimao  is a very different track from Sepang, and, of course, so are the weather conditions. 

“So it will be crucial to try the different fairings tested in Malaysia again to have more data to analyse before making a final decision. 

“We will also have to work on the race weekend, especially the sprint race. It will be two intense days, but I am ready and excited to return to work."

After the Sepang test, Bagnaia reported back: “The fairing was the same thing. It is totally different, a different effect on the ground, so you have to do a different thing when riding.

“It was better in the braking, this is already a good thing for Ducati. In the long corners, I have to understand. It is good to test here because there are a lot of long corners. There is great potential.”

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

One of the biggest threats to Bagnaia’s MotoGP championship this season is likely to come from the opposite side of the same garage.

Enea Bastianini earned a call-up from Gresini Racing and, even with his factory seat assured, he showed willingness to fight Bagnaia wheel-to-wheel last season.

Bastianini won the second-most amount of races behind only the champion.

"I am happy to get back on track this weekend and return to work to prepare for the new season,” Bastianini said. 

“We are now practically two weeks away from the first race, and I can't wait! 

“Although we completed a good part of our program in Sepang, two very intense days await us here. 

“It will be important to repeat some of the tests we did in Malaysia to have different data to compare. In addition, we will need to start working on fine-tuning the bike for the race and simulate a sprint race to understand how we will have to approach this year. We hope to find good weather on both days."

Bastianini said about after the Sepang test: “The potential of the new bike is good so I am confident.

“It is better. For me, it has a little bit more power. The bike is very similar to the old one, but with more potential.”

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