MotoGP Austria: Bagnaia soars after Rossi and Stoner support

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia was on a high at the Red Bull Ring after claiming the top step of the rostrum for the third time in a row on Sunday.

Having put his three mid-season DNF’s firmly in the past with successive successes in recent races, Bagnaia became the first Bologna factory rider to hit three consecutive wins since Casey Stoner in 2008 after holding off a rapidly paced Fabio Quartararo in the Austrian GP.

Launching from the front row alongside teammate Jack Miller - who also joined him on the Spielberg podium - and poleman Gresini’s Enea Bastianini, the 25-year-old was in control from the off after grabbing the holeshot from his countryman and never looked back.

“I tried to do the best start possible,” Bagnaia said after celebrating the victory. “But I also did a mistake with the gear because I entered to the first corner with the third gear and that was a bit long but anyway, I’m very happy about today because it was one of the hardest of the year.

“I wasn’t competitive till yesterday in the FP4 because I was struggling to be fast and finally, I think we did an enormous job yesterday.

“I did the safer choice for the front tyre but in this condition today finally wasn’t the best choice,” he continued. “I was expecting some drop of the rain or a drop of the temperature but then was everything okay, so maybe the hard was a bit better because I had a lot of problems with the front locking. But anyway, I’m very happy. We did another really good job this weekend. My team did an incredible job this weekend. So I’m very happy about everything.”

While Miller was in hot pursuit for the majority of the 28-lap race, it was the Yamaha champion who would challenge in the closing stages.

“When I see Jack over to me I said, ‘Okay, I have to be a bit more faster’. So I just tried to be more fast on the pace and I was able to do it. At the start I was just struggling with the front tyre because I was losing time on the braking with the full fuel tank and with the soft tyre but then everything come well. I was just struggling a lot in the last five/six laps, more the last two because I was completely without tyres and Fabio was gaining a lot of time.

“I think yes, was my best moment for sure because in a critical situation, we transform that moment in a good way with the work of my family and the work of my girlfriend and the work of my team. By team, I mean Ducati team, but also VR46 team, so thank them and thanks to me also.

“We did a good step, we understand what to improve and I think I did a step in front on that area.

“Maybe it’s too early to say something, just wait the next weekend, just wait the finish of the year to understand in which area I have to work again.”

The support around the Italian has been strong, with both mentor, friend and Academy boss Rossi and former Ducati champion Stoner both providing advice ahead of Sunday’s battle.

“Yes, sincerely, I spoke again with Vale and with Casey this weekend,” Bagnaia confirmed. “With Vale is more like my mentor, he gives me always advice about tyres and he was saying to me today ‘Don’t use the soft front because will be long with the soft front’ and I use the soft front so he will for sure say something to me!

“Casey, Friday he helps me to understand better some situation, because looking from the television maybe or for his experience, that he rode here with Ducati, he feel something and it’s like a comment on his experience and I tried to see if I try something about this experience and in this weekend maybe something was helpful for me.”

With two Europeans races left before the championship heads overseas, one in particular holds great importance for the Italian.

“I’m really looking forward to Misano because it’s an incredible weekend for me,” he said of the upcoming San Marino GP. “My home Grand Prix so is great to race there but let’s see. Let’s see. I don’t want to put pressure on me. I just want to do the weekend like we did in this weekend, in this race, try to be smart to understand every situation and try to be in front again.”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images