Pecco Bagnaia says it was important to pick up where he left off as he returned to MotoGP action with a bang by claiming an unexpected maiden podium finish on home soil at the San Marino MotoGP.
The Italian has been sidelined for five weeks after breaking his leg in an accident at Brno, but while he still requires a crutch to get around the paddock on foot, he has shown the same encouraging pace he demonstrated just prior to his injury.
On a weekend where Ducati’s form has largely fluctuated, Bagnaia was in supreme form in race conditions as he clawed his way up the order, in so doing his hopes of securing the available works Ducati ride no harm.
Pulling off a fine pass on VR46 Academy mentor Valentino Rossi to move into second place, Bagnaia then rode through the pain barrier of the final laps to resist a hard charging Joan Mir.
Coming after seeing an almost certain podium at Jerez was ruined by technical issues in July just before his injury, Bagnaia was proud to belatedly come good in front of his fans and at Ducati’s home race.
“The most important thing was to restart where I left off because in Jerez we were very strong then also in the Brno first session, but then I broke my leg and everything was very hard,” he said.
“It has been an incredible month and I have worked a lot, so I have to say thank you to everyone who worked with me, to prepare. When I saw the leg was OK on Friday, on Saturday I tried to push and the feeling was the same as Jerez so everything came to me more easily.
“One week ago I was not expecting a podium but in the race everything was nice, I recovered the positions.
“I started to think about the podium when I overtook Vale, because the pace was very good but then the leg started having pain so it was difficult to remain constant. On the last lap I had to give up a bit because the pain was too much and I could hear the sound of the Suzuki behind me, so I was scared on the last corner!
“The hardest moment was the last four laps because I started to get pain in the leg and the change of direction on the right side was very difficult, because I had a lot of pain. First race with the crowd at home, it was incredible.”
Bagnaia’s resurgent form on his return to action marks the culmination of an overhaul needed following a questionable maiden campaign in 2019 peppered with mistakes but showcasing the odd sparkling moment.
Revealing he had to ‘reset’ from the Thailand 2019 race, Bagnaia says ever since he has begun ‘accepting’ the Ducati riding style, he has been having significantly more success
“In Thailand we hit the reset button with the setting and my riding style. I have worked hard with my head and I started to accept the riding style of the Ducati, which was a different state of mind. This year I tried to be strong on the braking and in Jerez we finished this transformation.
“We have worked a lot to be more prepared this year and I think this track [Misano] is different to Jerez but we arrive in the same way, so I am very happy about that. After five weeks at home, a result like this is incredible.”
Bagnaia becomes the 12th different rider in 2020 to stand on the podium in MotoGP.