MotoGP Catalunya: Bagnaia on Miller - ‘We work together all the time, I wish him luck’

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia secured his fourth front row of the season on Saturday but the talking points were off track as much as on.

Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti confirmed on Saturday that Bagnaia would have a new teammate for 2023 with Jack Miller departing the Bologna factory after five years. With rumours strongly pointing to KTM as the Australian’s destination - with Miguel Oliveira tipped to go the other way, potentially with Gresini - the Italian was quick to reflect on the partnership the duo has built since their Pramac days.

“For me, was great to have Jack like a teammate because we form a group inside of the team and it’s something that I really need and I really want,’ Bagnaia said on Saturday evening. “We were together from 2019 and from that moment we started our relationship that was really great in the box.

“We work together all the time and we speak a lot during the weekend, for the tyres, for everything.

“So I would like to have the same relationship in the future for sure. Who will be my teammate will understand that because for me if we want to go fast and if we want to improve, we have to be close and have a good relationship. So I’m quite sure that this have started from when we arrived, me and Jack in the team and for sure in the future will be the same situation but with another rider. And I want to wish all the luck to Jack in his future.”

Returning to the day’s work, which saw the Mugello winner set a 1’38.773 lap on his final effort of qualifying - a time that would have been enough for a new lap record coming in to the weekend and 0.002s adrift of the record set in FP3 before Aleix Espargaro bettered his own time on his way to a home pole - Bagnaia was pleased with a front row start.

“I’m very happy, we did a good job all the weekend,” he explained. “FP4 gave to me the confidence to do a step in front in terms of time attack because we changed a bit the setting for the last exit and I feel better. But was very difficult because was very difficult to do a perfect lap in qualifying. Was easy to do little mistakes that cost a tenth because in this track if you lose a bit in acceleration you can lose a lot for the grip. In any case, I’m happy.

“I was very close to do another pole position but this weekend Aleix is quite strong, like all the other weekends but this weekend more.

“I don’t know how to beat him but I think that the key will be to be smart with the rear tyre all the race,” he said of his chances on Sunday against the local hero. “Because it’s true that you can go fast in the first laps but then you have to be constant till the finish of the race and if you push at the start you can’t be constant at the finish of the race.

“So will be a race of survival because you have to be very, very smart on the acceleration. We did a different work compare the others in FP4 to see if the tyre would be okay and I’m quite happy with the result of the FP4 of my pace.

“Will be difficult to predict our strategy now. The condition tomorrow will be maybe hotter and the grip will be less so difficult also to choose a rear tyre. But in any case the strategy will be to remain calm with the rear tyre and try to manage it in a smart way to be competitive in the last part of the race.”

Picture: GeeBee Images