Pecco Bagnaia: “I have never played psychological games, the differences are marked on the court” | Motorcycling | Sports

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Francesco Bagnaia (Turin, Italy, 27 years old), Pecco for everyone, starts the MotoGP World Championship in 2024 as defending champion and main favorite, the only rider whom the rest of the contenders clearly point to. Riding the official Ducati, where he has found the “perfect combination”, the two-time world champion in the premier category says he keeps his ambition intact. He attends to EL PAÍS with his usual temperance, without shying away from the melon of Marc Márquez and with the desire to measure his strength under the lights of the Qatar GP, which kicks off the season this weekend.

Ask. We have seen him stronger than ever this preseason, would you say that he is better than ever at the start of the World Cup?

Answer. Yes, we arrived at a very good time. It has been a good preseason, but the important thing was to finish developing the 2024 bike well, and we have achieved it. I am very happy with the bike and the new engine. We have a very good base to start with.

Q. Everyone points to you as the main favorite, who do you point out among the competition?

R. At the moment it is difficult to say, and I want to wait a little to make a statement. Everyone has a chance to win, all the bikes are fast, so we’ll see how things go. What is clear is that competition is higher than ever.

Q. Do you see Marc Márquez as a rival for the title?

R. We’ll see. We are here in Qatar to fight, compete and discover who will be the main rival to beat. Without a doubt he has possibilities, the bike is strong and he is Marc Márquez. I’m sure he will be competitive, but I only think about going fast.

Q. Did it bother you that Ducati brought you in and all the media noise that has followed?

R. No, not at all, I knew that possibility was in the air. When I saw it happening I thought: ‘It’s normal to escape from Honda to get on the Ducati.’ I took it as something natural. I am a pilot and I have to give gas. What the other drivers who are in other teams do is not my thing. This whole situation, the questions, like so many others, do not change my life.

Q. Is being able to beat him with the same motorcycle something that excites you?

R. The important thing for me is to win, the rest doesn’t matter to me, not against who or what bike. If Marc is at the level he showed in the past, it will surely be a very nice fight. My mentality is that you can learn a lot from a driver like that, but right now I would say that he is the one who has to learn the most, because the change is very big.

Q. You keep a low profile, aren’t you interested in stardom?

R. No, well, let’s see, just and normal. Going to events and doing nice things that are proposed to you in your daily life is fine. I love my life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. For me, the important thing is to be happy, to have a good situation at home, with my family and my fiancée, we are getting married in the summer! All this allows me to be calm and fast here.

Q. 18 of its rivals do not have a secure future today. You have just renewed with Ducati. Is not having a contract an added difficulty?

R. It depends on the driver, if you start with a contract you should only think about going fast. Otherwise, perhaps you think about getting results to get that contract, which is not exactly the same. For me it was very important, also for Ducati. Having done it before the season starts allows us to be focused on the goal of winning.

Q. He doesn’t lose his composure or his forms, nor does he get involved in the intersection of statements, don’t you like it or don’t you need it?

R. I have never played psychological games, for me the differences are only marked on the court. I make my way, I go about my business, and what people say doesn’t affect me.

Q. Don’t you check the media and social networks?

R. I must admit, sometimes I do it for a laugh. I like to read, yes. It doesn’t affect me, and I watch a lot at night, before going to sleep. There are some things that motivate me to go faster. In Valencia, last year, almost all the fans were with the ‘yes we can’, and that gave me a lot of energy to show that no, it couldn’t be done.

Q. So it does get hot?

R. Not quite. If you look at me, I always have the same face, but on the court I bring out the best in me, the necessary attitude. And that is the most important.

Q. To be a champion, must one believe oneself to be the best driver?

R. It’s hard to say that. In the end it is the results that speak for themselves. I believe that I have the potential to win and to be the strongest. We have shown it the last two years, and my idea is to continue like this.

Q. And do you sometimes doubt yourself?

R. For me, if everything works as it should, I know that I will be ahead fighting for victory. I’ve worked hard to have this level of consistency, and it’s what surely makes the difference.

Q. In Barcelona you had a big scare, how did it affect you?

R. It took me five or six races to regain my full level of confidence.

Q. Working on the mental aspect?

R. I don’t use a specific figure. I am a very proud driver, and I also think a lot about what areas I need to improve on my own, without needing someone to tell me. My physical trainer, Carlo Casabianca, is very good at bringing out all the motivation inside me.

Q. Many do not understand this good vibe that exists among pilots today…

R. I don’t know what to say. This is a free world, and everyone can think what they want. For me, the difference is that in the past these opinions could only be heard in the bar, and now they are public, they are everywhere on the internet.

Q. Fabio Quartararo says that this little world requires being false, do you agree?

R. I don’t feel that way among drivers, but I do at the level of context and situations. When I fell in Barcelona, ​​it was not because of my mistake, but if you say that people think you are making excuses. Sometimes, you’re not entirely honest when thinking about these kinds of things.

Q. You are a reference for the brand, two-time world champion, but you have never had preferential treatment over the rest of Ducati riders, have you never asked for it?

R. No, because it is something that has always been like this. If Ducati is now at this level it is because we have this deal. Sometimes it makes you a little angry, because you work hard to reach a level, and everyone knows what you’ve done. It has passed in these tests: we have done an incredible job, and now the rest of the motorcycles already have all that.

Q. In this hyper-technological era, do riders still have control of motorcycles?

R. Yes, the biggest difference is always the pilot. Then comes the motorcycle, the electronics, but it cannot be said that we do not have control of the motorcycle, that is not true. I don’t have much electronics, the bike is free, it certainly doesn’t go alone.

Q. Would winning with another bike, like your mentor, Rossi, be an attractive challenge?

R. I would like it very much, really, but Ducati was always my first love, since I was a child. It is not something that I have in mind, I would even say that we have achieved something similar here. We have finished a job that started in 2015, and a piece of me is in these results. But being able to do it from scratch, surely, is a very big challenge and one that is very exciting.

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