Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
MotoGP Catalan GP

How 'sofa racer' Bagnaia is finding the edge on his MotoGP rivals

Aleix Espargaro says MotoGP champion Francesco Bagnaia races “like he is at home on the sofa”, as he leads the standings by 62 points ahead of the Catalan Grand Prix.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

The Ducati rider scored his third sprint/grand prix double of the 2023 campaign last time out in Austria, after dominating at the Red Bull Ring.

It has given him a huge lead in the standings ahead of this weekend’s 11th round of the campaign in Barcelona, with Bagnaia 91 points adrift at the same stage of the 2022 season after five DNFs.

While Bagnaia has three non-scores to his credit on Sundays in 2023 and one in a sprint, he has generally been mistake-free since the early portion of the championship and is punishing the inconsistency of his rivals.

On Thursday at the Catalan GP, a number of other frontrunners were asked to comment on Bagnaia’s strengths in 2023.

His fellow Ducati riders, Jorge Martin and Marco Bezzecchi, both highlighted how strong Bagnaia is on the brakes – while the latter noted that he is always able to make the difference somewhere on a circuit.

“He wins! No, it’s complicated,” Martin said. “It’s not only one thing, there are a lot of different things. Sometimes I’m a bit better somewhere, sometimes he’s a bit better in other places. I think normally he is braking [strong]. I’m getting closer, but he’s unbelievable in braking.”

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bezzecchi added: “I agree with Jorge. At the end, it’s not always the same. There are tracks where he makes the difference in every corner, or there are other tracks where he makes the difference just in one or two. But basically, he has a fantastic way to use the bike in braking and in [corner] entry.”

Bagnaia’s double victory in Austria put him onto 16 MotoGP wins for Ducati, surpassing three-time championship runner-up Andrea Dovizioso’s tally of 15.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who beat Bagnaia to victory at the British GP, believes the Italian’s strength derives from the “knowledge” he has in knowing every facet of how the Ducati squad works. As such, it has made his riding seem effortless.

“For me, it’s the knowledge of the full project,” Espargaro began. “So, he has the best bike definitely, he has a good team around him.

“He knows all of this and the way he is working during the weekend, slow and carefully from Friday and building to more, it’s the knowledge of the project. He’s able to arrive on Sunday knowing everything is perfect and he races like he is at home, relaxing on the sofa. So, this is the best thing.”

Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez echoed these comments, adding: “Yeah, completely agree with Aleix.

“He can have the best bike or have the best group, but it’s the package: bike, rider and team inside his garage. They are in a good mode, in a good atmosphere.

“This makes things easier. You are faster and it’s easier. I was in the past on that point and it’s really nice. So, I hope that he enjoys it.”

While Bagnaia dismissed suggestions that he is now unbeatable, he heaped praise on the work of his team, as well as the ability to be able to utilise the data of seven other Ducati riders to improve his own performance.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

This is borne out in his approach to race weekends now, starting slowly on Fridays to build up a base and eradicate any problems he is having, to then up his pace in a way that is not overstepping the limits from Saturday.

The condensed schedule due to the sprint and the need for top 10 pace from Friday afternoon to secure a direct place in Q2 makes this no small task. But it’s one in which both Bagnaia and Ducati are excelling.

“I think I improved compared to last year in terms of speed and consistency,” Bagnaia said.

“I feel incredible with my team. Every time we start maybe not in the best situation, but what I ask is something that my team gives to me, and it’s something that makes my job easier.

“We are eight [riders] with the same bike and it’s something that can help to understand where some riders are doing a better job than me.

“It’s many things that help us to improve. But the main reason is I feel incredible with my team and right now I feel incredible with my bike.”

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Why Bezzecchi shunned a factory MotoGP bike for Valentino Rossi's dream team
Next article MotoGP Catalan GP: Aleix Espargaro on top as Marc Marquez crashes in FP1

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe