MotoGP Assen: Bezzecchi’s podium prophecy - ‘I didn’t expect it so early’| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Marco Bezzecchi celebrated his maiden premier class podium at Assen on Sunday, a first also for the Mooney VR46 MotoGP team.
While the result was a little unexpected for the Ducati rookie, Bezzecchi looked strong across the weekend as a whole and didn’t look back once the opportunity presented itself on race day. A last minute tyre gamble providing the final piece of the puzzle, alongside some nerves of steel when the rain began to threaten.
“It was an incredible race,” Bezzecchi exclaimed after the celebrations had dies down. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect with the soft because we worked well, but with the medium.
“I bring the medium to race distance and I didn’t expect that the medium was not good. So seeing that in the qualifying I was very fast. I said, I think is not possible that I’m so slow with the medium, maybe I’m using the wrong tyre. But with the soft I make maximum six laps! So I put the soft and Matteo gave me a lot of confidence in this choice because I wasn’t really sure. Still in the grid I didn’t know what to do and he said ‘We put the soft, don’t worry, you are good’.
“When I saw Pecco in front I tried to go with him because, I didn’t want to catch him, well if I could I try, but the target was to escape from the others because Maverick was very fast. Is a fantastic feeling!”
Despite a consistent front runner across the junior classes, Bezzecchi has never stood on the podium at the TT Circuit, so what clicked this weekend on the GP21? The rookie form has been building in recent races, with a front row start at his home Grand Prix in Mugello the icing on the cake until Sunday, but there’s an element of premonition with the Italian too.
“I don’t know!” Bezzecchi admitted when asked what finally made the difference in the Netherlands. “Honestly, I was happy to come here because it’s a track that I like but I always arrive close to the podium but never on the podium.
“But honestly when I start from home I didn’t expect to fight for the podium. Something that I said to my girlfriend - we were eating, I was watching my house and I said ‘Where I can put my first MotoGP trophy?’ but incredible is since many races that this happens.
“In Mugello, I make a dream that I was like into myself in this dream and I was making the qualifying behind Pecco and I pass him on the straight and I make pole position and I heard the noise from the fans. And then in qualifying I make almost pole position, but first row and then here! Is fantastic.
“But honestly I felt good. Maybe the key for my race was that I worked with a tyre that didn’t have grip at all, with the medium, and then for the race I put the soft and the bike was another bike. I just try to don’t stress too much the tyre. Be intelligent with the mapping of power, try to make smooth with gas, especially right side and then try to follow Pecco and escape from Maverick.
“Obviously is very, very important, of course, because it’s something that I was dreaming to achieve,” he said of his podium debut in MotoGP. “I didn’t expect to achieve it so early.
“But at the end, I’m still a rookie so my mentality is this - when I come back for the second part of the season, I don’t want to expect always a good race like this. Because there will be for sure a track where I’m struggling more or one where I’m struggling less. So the best way to continue the work is to try to make the best every race.
“When there is a possibility like today, try to use this possibility and get the maximum result. But when I don’t have the possibility, anyway, try to get the maximum of that day. Like if it’s a P10 or P12 or another podium. For sure, on the podium is better, this is clear, but I think being a rookie is normal to make some up and downs. Some tracks are more difficult than others, in some tracks you have to manage more the tyres or less. So for sure, in this weekend, making the race all in front I learned more than Sachsenring, I would say. But the click, I think is coming when you start to learn many, many more things.”
With 11 races complete of his first season in the premier class, how does the 23-year-old evaluate his progress so far?
“It was fantastic, the first part of the season,” Bezzecchi confirmed. “The only race that I really wanted to do more was Montmelo because I was good all the days and in the race, fuck, I crash. So this was the only race, because I make a similar mistake to Austin and this for me is not really good. All the rest I think was fantastic. Because we always learn something, we have an Excel page and for every race we write two or three or more things that we learn on that weekend and the list is already big. So for me it was fantastic.”
It’s also the first podium success since the VR46 Riders Academy stepped up into the blue ribboned class, with Valentino Rossi as a team owner rather than rider.
“Vale and all the Academy, they made an incredible job,” the Italian said proudly. “I think without Vale for sure I could not be in the World Championship because he took me when I was 15/14 and to arrive here is fantastic. So this is all for him and for the Riders Academy. They always support us and this year I think they make a huge step.”