until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Bagnaia makes earnest and surprising Quartararo admission

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP’s newly-crowned champion Pecco Bagnaia admitted after sealing the 2022 title that he feels vanquished rival Fabio Quartararo is still “a more complete rider than me”.

Bagnaia faced a 91-point deficit for the second half of the championship after crashing out while chasing Quartararo at the Sachsenring – a race after which he admonished himself and said the 2021 champion had “one more time demonstrated that he is more complete than me”.

But Bagnaia then went on a spectacular run in the second half of the season and, aided by Quartararo’s errors at Assen and Phillip Island, arrived to Valencia a clear title favourite and sealed the deal.

Yet the Ducati man has had plenty of sympathy for Quartararo along the way, acknowledging at Sepang – when the Frenchman broke a finger that he will have surgery on in the off-season – that Quartararo’s misfortunate was “too much in this moment” and something “he doesn’t deserve”.

Yet, in discussing his triumph in a special press conference after the Valencia race, Bagnaia did not shy away from the popular perception that Quartararo’s Yamaha M1 was simply not a match for his Ducati Desmosedici GP22 for the vast majority of this year.

Fabio Quartararo Yamaha Pecco Bagnaia Ducati MotoGP Valencia

“In Sachsenring I said Fabio was more complete. I’m still thinking that Fabio is one of the most complete riders,” he admitted.

“Because he never lost his ambition, never lost his need to win, considering that he has a slower bike.

“Because my bike – it’s true that I was always the first Ducati, more or less, but he was with a bike that was going slower, that had more problems than mine. And still he was fighting for it.

“I’m still thinking that Fabio is more complete than me. But I tried to improve this year. I improved a lot this year. And I grew as a rider, I grew as a man.

“I think now I can understand the situation better, also the work in the box with my guys. I think that my level of growth is in a good way, and I want to continue like this.”

Post-clash Valencia “nightmare”

Pecco Bagnaia Ducati MotoGP champion Valencia

After climbing off the bike in parc ferme, Bagnaia described his title-clinching Valencia ride as “the hardest race of the year, of my life”.

He had struggled, both with nerves and with feel, throughout the weekend, but any such concerns took a back seat to the fact he’d had a lower right front winglet knocked off in a collision with Quartararo – which happened when a lunge by team-mate Jack Miller sent the Yamaha man wide, with Bagnaia placing himself on the inside as Quartararo tried to speedily return to the racing line.

“It wasn’t easy,” Bagnaia said. “After the fight with Fabio I lost a winglet and from that moment everything was nightmare.

“Lap by lap, trying to do defensive lines, but it was very, very hard, difficult, and it took so long to finish the race.

“When I passed the finish line, I just saw the pitboard writing that I was the world champion, and from that moment everything was more light, more nice, incredible.”

Bagnaia, who is a long-tenured part of MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy, said he received something of a pep talk from the attendant Rossi the day before the decider.

Valentino Rossi MotoGP Valencia

“I was feeling it. I felt this weight on my shoulder, to give back to my team, to the manufacturer, to Ducati, to Italy. It wasn’t easy in that moment.

“But then – I spoke with Vale, and he said to me ‘you have to be proud to have this possibility, not anyone can have the same feeling, it’s true that you can feel the pressure, feel anxiety, feel fear, but you have to be proud of it, you have to be happy to have it, and try to enjoy it’.”

“And I tried to do it,” he added, before admitting jovially “today it didn’t work” and stifling a laugh.

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