Franco Morbidelli: Injury ‘needs to be respected’, Diggia ‘able to express corner speed’

Franco Morbidelli gives an update on his fitness and what he learned at the Qatar MotoGP test.

Franco Morbidelli
Franco Morbidelli

Assuming he is passed fit, Franco Morbidelli will take part in next weekend’s Qatar MotoGP having missed all five days of official pre-season testing.

The Italian, switching from Monster Yamaha to Pramac Ducati, was knocked unconscious in a superbike training accident at the end of January.

Doctors advised Morbidelli it would be “pretty dangerous to hit the head again, right now” and he was forced to skip the Sepang and Qatar tests. However, he travelled to Lusail to be with the team and watch from trackside.

Speaking at the Pramac launch in Bahrain on Wednesday, Morbidelli indicated that he is still waiting for final approval from the doctors to ride in Qatar on March 8-10.

But the one-month recovery timeframe expires this week and, while he has adjusted his training slightly, admits “it's an injury that almost doesn't feel like an injury because physically I'm pretty good”.

Nonetheless, You need to take your time and keep respecting what the doctors say, because it's an injury that needs to be respected.”

Assuming Morbidelli is back in action in Qatar, it will be his first time on the Desmosedici GP24 since the one-day Valencia test on November 28.

“It's going to be important to have the right approach,” Morbidelli said. “[Which is] don't look too much at what the top guys are doing and how much maybe the gap is going to be.

“Because I know I have some ground to catch up. And for sure to catch it up in a race weekend is a tricky thing, but that's what we have to do and that's what we will try to do in the best way.”

Attending the Qatar test at least provided Morbidelli with some information for the task ahead, although the main thing he learned was that “riding the bike is much better than watching the other guys ride it!

“But as an injured [rider] it was one of the best chances I had, to stay on the track, stay with the team, speak with my crew… Try to recover [some of the time lost].

“I don't want to say it's one of the best ways to be injured, but the situation came out pretty well as an injured [rider].”

Although not on track himself, Morbidelli can still check the data of the other Ducati riders, including the other GP24s of team-mate Jorge Martin, plus factory team riders Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini.

“Already in Valencia I was checking out the data of the other riders, but also in Qatar and also some data from Sepang. It will be a key point to understand and to try to be as quick as possible.

“I'm planning on being very quick and I'm facing some adversity at the moment. Well, I made the adversity by myself. But I'm doing everything it takes to come back and to come back as soon as possible.

“So I'm checking out the data of the other Ducati riders, especially the ones that are really fast. But I have to say that all Ducati riders are riding really fast.”

Morbidelli was known for his smooth, flowing styles on the way to three wins and title runner-up for Petronas Yamaha in 2020.

While the 29-year-old is clear the best style for the Desmosedici is as used by the world championship top two of Bagnaia and Martin, he cites Qatar winner Fabio di Giannantonio as perhaps closer to his own natural strengths.

The style to be very fast nowadays is the one that Pecco and Jorge have,” Morbidelli said.

“But the style that I've been winning with [in the past] is a little bit different and still can be effective, and I think Diggia is able to express that corner speed and flow through the corners style.

“But as I said, the style to win, at the moment, is the one that Pecco and Jorge have.”

After so much pre-season upheaval, Morbidelli is keeping his expectations in check.

“I'm not making any clear expectations on when I'm going to catch up enough to fight for the positions I want to fight for. For now, I'm just planning the next step.”

Opening practice for the Qatar MotoGP, the start of Morbidelli’s seventh MotoGP season, takes place at Lusail on March 8.

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