A day lost pursuing the wrong bike set-up for the slippery Catalunya surface may have left Francesco Bagnaia just 14th on the grid, but he was the fastest rider on track during the closing stages of the race.

The Pramac Ducati rider fought his way through to sixth place, a fraction behind team-mate Jack Miller (fourth on the grid) and only 3.5s from race winner Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha).

"At the beginning of the weekend it was very difficult. We tried to make changes on the bike to adapt better with the low grip," Bagnaia explained. "But we decided to come back to my standard bike, which was the best, then for the race we changed little things, to have more grip and it worked well.

"We can be happy with what we have done this weekend, because starting P14 and six-seconds behind the leader and recovering to three seconds. The only problem has been starting P14.

"It's something I have to learn because it's not correct to lose a day [changing to the wrong set-up] like Friday because I was not adapting to the conditions and it was my mistake.

"So I have to learn about that and for the next weekend I will try to be competitive also in conditions that I don’t like."

That wrong turn with set-up aside, Bagnaia - on the podium in Misano 1, before falling from the lead in Misano 2 - has recently established himself as the Ducati rider most consistently comfortable with the new 2020 Michelin rear tyre construction.

Factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci are still suffering under braking. Petrucci, who battled with Bagnaia for part of Sunday's race, later said: "For sure Pecco has been very good to defend the position. He is a late braker."

Interestingly, Bagnaia revealed that he was barely using any rear brake at all in Barcelona, due to the low grip surface.

"I try to use less rear brake, that normally I use a lot, because in this track when I was trying to use more rear brake I was stopping too much the rear tyre and I was always going wide," he said.

"So I worked a lot to be strong on the braking, but just with the front brake. And one of the most important things has been to be very smart with the gas, be very gentle on the edge, to not stress too much the rear tyre."

Bagnaia is now widely expected to be joining Miller at the factory Ducati team in 2021, with Johann Zarco losing a chance to impress the Factory further when he fell on the opening lap - bringing down title leader Dovizioso.

"Let's wait until Wednesday that I think is the day we will know something," Bagnaia said of the long-awaited 2021 Ducati rider announcements. "But I don’t know anything. So let's wait."

Catalunya was only the third race Bagnaia has finished this season, due to a combination of technical problems, accidents and injuries

 

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