Valentino Rossi admits: “Bez v Bagnaia title fight will be difficult to manage”

Valentino Rossi knows that if Marco Bezzecchi and Francesco Bagnaia’s “tussles” at the Ranch are replicated in a MotoGP championship fight, it will be difficult to manage a friendship-turned-rivalry.
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Valencia
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Valencia

Mooney VR46 rider Bezzecchi leads the MotoGP standings after three rounds, 11 points ahead of factory Ducati rider and reigning champion Bagnaia.

Both are graduates of the VR46 Academy, and Rossi has opened up on their battles for supremacy in Tavullia and how things might change if the MotoGP title is at stake.

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“That Pecco-Bez is a great couple,” Rossi told La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Sportweek. 

“By now we know the value of Pecco. Bez is coming. 

“There is a great rivalry between the two. But when they train they do it crazy, in the gym, at the ranch, always a tussle. And this helps them to grow a lot.

“Honestly we also try our best to get them to get along. 

“Their strength is that they train together and always become stronger. 

“But it is not easy to manage all relationships. Especially among riders who race against each other. 

“So if they come to compete for the world championship, from a certain point it will also be difficult to manage them. 

“I think they are smart enough to handle it. Let's hope so.”

Valentino Rossi admits: “Bez v Bagnaia title fight will be difficult to manage”

Bagnaia became the first VR46 graduate to become MotoGP champion last season.

His victory - the first Italian to win the title since Rossi in 2009, the first Ducati rider since 2007 - was poignant because he did it for the famous Italian manufacturer, where his mentor infamously failed.

This season in Argentina, Bezzecchi delivered the first-ever grand prix win for Rossi’s Mooney VR46 team.

Luca Marini and Franco Morbidelli, the other two graduates of the Academy on the current grid, have also excelled with three rounds gone.

But can Bezzecchi sustain his early promise and hang in the championship hunt against the more experienced Bagnaia?

Rossi’s verdict: “Why not? I think it's too early to tell, but given how the team works and how the bike is doing and, above all, how Bez is doing, I think he can fight for the world championship.

“He’s a warrior. He has a great hunger, a great desire to train, to learn to be stronger and stronger.”

Bezzecchi v Bagnaia - future rivals?

Francesco Bagnaia, Marco Bezzecchi, Grand Prix of the Americas, 13 April
Francesco Bagnaia, Marco Bezzecchi, Grand Prix of the Americas, 13 April

Bezzecchi explained before the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas: “It is strange. Honestly, I prefer to have rivals who are not my friends. 

“But with Pecco, Luca, Frankie - I hope Vietti in the future - it is different. 

"We’ve trained together for many years. Of course when we race in MotoGP and we close the visor, everyone is the same to me, and I try to arrive in front. 

"We all know each other very well - we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses - this makes things more spicy!"

Bagnaia added: "The cleanest battle we have is here! At home, the things we do are more difficult, more dirty, like a battle. It’s great to see riders from the Academy. 

"This is the best moment of the Academy - winning the first two races of the championship, Luca did a podium in the sprint, Frankie was fourth. 

"We are growing together a lot and, this year, we have taken a big step in front. We are smart - if we work together at home, we can all be at the front in MotoGP. It is a matter for us to be smart, not to be stupid, and to have clean battles."

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