Bagnaia warned by Wayne Rainey of rival who will say ‘I need to be the guy’

Enea Bastianini has been tipped by Wayne Rainey to create a “rivalry” that will put Francesco Bagnaia under “pressure”.
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 16 April
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 16 April

Bagnaia crashed out of the lead of the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, also costing himself the lead in the championship.

It was a disastrous reminder of last season when Bagnaia failed to finish five times, although he recovered to claim a maiden title.

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“I’m a big fan of his, he’s very fast and he pushes hard,” MotoGP legend Rainey, a three-time champion, said.

“Sometimes I know he falls, but what he did last year? To come from so far back in the points to charge and win all those races…

“He has taken that Ducati and is getting everything he can out of it. He has the factory seat, so if there is any advantage from the equipment, I think he has the best package.

“But there are a lot of good riders out there. There are a lot of good Ducatis.

“Bastianini is coming - ‘The Beast’! He wants to show that ‘I need to be the guy’.

“It will be a good rivalry as it unfolds. Then there is everybody else.

“He will feel the pressure, there will be a lot of riders nipping at him. It will be fun to watch.”

Enea Bastianini, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP, 24 March
Enea Bastianini, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP, 24 March

Bagnaia’s factory Ducati teammate Bastianini is expected to make his return from injury at the fourth round in Jerez on April 30.

His step-up from Gresini to the factory team got off to the most unfortunate possible start when, in the first-ever sprint race which Bagnaia won, Bastianini was wiped out by a fellow Ducati rider, Luca Marini.

He avoided surgery on a broken shoulder blade but has missed all three grands prix as a result, and is stuck on zero points, 64 behind championship leader Marco Bezzecchi.

The rivalry between the two factory Ducati riders was a key theme heading into 2023 but, due to Bastianini’s early crash, it hasn’t yet begun.

Now Bastianini is set to return at a time when Bagnaia may feel at his most vulnerable, after a seemingly unforced crash in America.

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