Bagnaia: “Many emotions with Rossi on the lap of honor”

Fourth win of the season for Francesco Bagnaia. This one from the Valencia GP is one of the most special for him because it was the one from Valentino Rossi’s farewell race, from which he took one of his helmets, like the rest of the VR46 academy riders, to close the 2021 course.

-Good end of the season. What does it mean to you to win Rossi’s last race?

-The most important thing was to celebrate Vale’s farewell in the best way possible, with the helmet that I was wearing today, because in 2004 with Yamaha he did something very important, he did not have it easy at all and for me this was the helmet with the history more important and it was the way he wanted to celebrate his last race. And the truth is that it has been perfect. We shared many emotions after the lap of honor.

-What emotions did you feel today with that Rossi’s helmet? What legacy does he leave you?

-When we started to think about what we could do for Vale, what a surprise we could make him, I started thinking about making a helmet that he could use only for this race. He was thinking about his history and his past helmets. And the 2004 helmet was one of my favorites that Vale had, and I wanted to make that helmet. But then I thought: it’s the last big prize. And this is the helmet from the first year with Yamaha, and it was not easy, because it went there when the Honda was the best bike. That is why I chose it, and because it is one of the most beautiful. And Vale for us is a friend, he is our older brother and he has always helped us a lot. What he has done for us and what he is doing for us is fantastic and I think it was the least possible tribute. Yesterday I tried to help him in the official, today he was with me on the podium, so it’s a great day.

-Why has your beginning not been easy and you have had to go back a lot to put yourself first?

-Yes, I don’t know why, but in the last two races I started very badly, I was fourth after the first corner. I do not know why it is difficult for me to exit, I may have to work a little at this point. I knew that afterwards at the level of rhythm it was very competitive. I overtook Jack, who made a mistake in the last corner, because today the last corner and the two were very difficult, and then I started to follow Jorge and I saw that my pace was a little bit better. And when I saw that he was going a little bit slower and Joan was closing the distance behind him, I tried to overtake him and hit hard. I am very happy with this victory, because on a circuit where I have never felt too good we have taken a big step forward. And today’s victory means a lot to me.

-Will the expectations for the next season be different with this end of the year?

-Yes I hope so. Without a doubt we will start with another level of confidence, because now we know that we can win, our motorcycle has been more or less the same as last year and what we have changed is that we have gone from being a difficult motorcycle when it comes to turn into a motorcycle that turns very well. We have worked a lot this year and we have made this possible. So with a different mentality we have changed a bike that was very difficult to turn for a very competitive one. We have seen how all the Ducati riders have had a great year, we make a great team.

-How much has Jorge Martín’s performance impressed you?

-I think Jorge has done a great job, more than a great job, because starting as a rookie and already in the second race get a podium, and then win in Austria after missing many races after the Portimao accident … I think it was A great season, he has to be satisfied with what he has achieved, and today it was also very competitive. Our bike is not the easiest when you start, but since the debut he has been learning very quickly all the aspects that took me the most time to learn. It is the first year that I feel so good with this bike in my case. It is also true that our bike is very competitive now, although it was last year, and sometimes it went faster, although most of the time it couldn’t be fast. And he has been very competitive. But I think Bastianini has also had a great rookie year. Marini has worked a lot during the sessions, although then he suffers more in the races. But I think all the Ducati riders are being very fast and competitive.

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-The Ducati now looks perfect. Next year there will be more evolutions. What mistake does Ducati have to avoid?

-I hope that next year’s bike is even better than this one, although the truth is that this one is already very good, it’s a perfect bike right now. We have improved it a lot. And this is something I think Ducati has to think about, because with this same bike last year we had difficulties but this year in the second part of the season we have always been competitive, in the official and in the races. So I think they don’t have to change too many things, but I’m sure if Gigi and all the engineers decide to do something it is because it is better, so I am not scared by what comes Thursday, we have already tried a few things.

-Mir after the race was in shock, it was not believed that they had improved in 25 seconds the time of last year’s race (he refers to the first of 2020, because compared to the second there are 7). Do you have the same impression that they have a great advantage over other motorcycles?

-Let’s see, it surprises me. Yes, I was fast, but the first race last year was different, the track was not good, it is very difficult to draw this comparison between these two races. We have to pay more attention to the second one, where Jack was fighting for victory and the pace was more or less the same. Also today it was warmer than last year, I think the conditions have been better. Jack was competitive last year. If you look at the race, Jack and I were able to manage the gas very well, because I had a bit of a problem with the rear tire wear on the left side. So I wanted to manage tire wear well from the start. Today I have managed to be constant. Compared to the beginning until the middle of the year it was more difficult to keep the tires now we have taken a step forward.

-You said you wanted a good celebration as a tribute to Valentino. Has that put extra pressure for today’s race?

-The truth is that no, it was a positive pressure, I was not fighting for anything special, I did not play anything, I had already closed the position in the championship so I have limited myself to doing my career, to what I have done in all last weekends and I am very happy to have achieved the victory with this helmet.

-Petrucci has commented that the level of MotoGP has increased a lot in a way that requires you to be very special to be able to win. Do you agree?

-I think all the riders in the World Championship have more or less great talent, including of course Petrucci. What has changed is the level, the preparation and the mentality of all the riders, I think it is more professional, and right now the level in MotoGP is very high. We have seen many times this season that the first ones have been three tenths faster than the second ones, to ten drivers in half a second.

-What are you going to do now?

-On November 23 I am going to have surgery to remove what I have on my leg from last year’s operation, they have to remove it, and then I will go to New York with my girlfriend. I will have a month of rehabilitation and then a little vacation, because the truth is that this summer I did not rest and I need it. It sure will be very nice.

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