Reigning Moto2 world champion Pecco Bagnaia says he’s still only 65% complete in the transition from the intermediate class to MotoGP, despite finishing the Sepang test second fastest overall behind only the man he replaced Danilo Petrucci. The rookie stunned the paddock with his form at the test, coming home only 0.063 off his fellow Italian and well clear of the outright lap record set last year by Jorge Lorenzo.
Only on his ninth day of MotoGP testing but already looking to have made the difficult transition not only to the top class but to the rather unique Ducati, Bagnaia was adamant after the Malaysian test that there’s still plenty more pace to come as he continues to work on his riding style.
“I still need to improve, but I’m happy with the work that we did in Sepang. I’ve started to understand how to ride a MotoGP bike like a MotoGP rider, but in the opening days I was still riding like I was last year. I’ve had to understand how to have more traction in the exit, by stopping more the bike and picking it up as you open the gas. I’ve improved my braking as well, I’ve improved my set up and I’ve found a good feeling with the front. We’ve got a good base now.
“I still need to improve a lot of things, like how to maintain consistency on used tyres. We made a big step on the final day of testing, but the drop is bigger in a race than in testing so we still need to do more. At the moment, I think I’m about 65% a MotoGP rider, because I’ve understood a lot of things but the most important part of MotoGP is in the race.”
Despite admitting that the result came as a big surprise for him, the Valentino Rossi protégé is under no illusions about how hard 2019 will be though. Remaining cool, he’s keen to simply see how the year plays out.
“I wasn’t expecting to make a 1:58 lap – my target was a 1:59! To break the record means I’m very happy, but it also means that we’ve done a good job. But although I made a good lap, I prefer to see what happens step by step. My aim in Qatar is still the same, to be rookie of the year."