until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Can ’70-75%’ Bastianini trouble Bagnaia right away?

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Prospective MotoGP 2023 title contender Enea Bastianini seems to be on the back foot with the Ducati GP23 relative to team-mate Pecco Bagnaia, but did end the three-day Sepang test on a positive note.

Bastianini was a thorn in eventual champion Bagnaia’s side on multiple occasions last season, as part of what was a four-win campaign on a year-old Ducati run by Gresini that earned Bastianini a promotion to the works team.

He had a positive debut with the factory outfit in the post-season Valencia test in November, but acknowledged during the Sepang running earlier this month that his transition to a 2023-spec Ducati Desmosedici wasn’t proving entirely straightforward.

He revealed during the test that he was finding it “difficult to bring the speed, to exit fast from the corner, because I’m not really confident with the rear”.

“The strongest point of this bike is different. I have to change a little bit my style,” he added.


“It’s difficult, but I can’t try to enter [with my regular style], very, very fast inside – I have to arrive a little bit more slow. And also the maximum [lean] angle for me is not correct.”

Presumably as an extension of that, Bastianini admitted at the end of the test he will “probably not” be at his 100% with the GP23 come the season opener at Portimao at the end of March.

“But 90-95% we can arrive [at],” he said. “At the moment we’re in the 70-75% [range].

“The new bike has a lot of potential, but to use this is not easy. We have to see the data a lot and make it more clear [also] to engineers.”

The encouraging thing is that the single-lap performance was clearly there, a 1m58.149s on the final day lifting Bastianini to fourth in the leaderboard. And that came on a day in which Bastianini said “we have resolved a lot of problems”.

“I think now I’m really confident and I can ride more soft, more easy,” he even proclaimed, despite his subsequent ’70-75%’ admission.


He also said that one of the two main problem areas of the bike, the engine braking, was resolved during the test, leaving just that “first touch of the throttle” as a concern because it was “not like the old bike at the moment”.

This was similar feedback to team-mate Bagnaia’s, if a little bit offset in terms of timing. Bastianini said during the test that he was happy he and Bagnaia were proving “so similar, especially on the riding style” and in terms of feedback. “When it’s like this, it’s easy to speak with the engineers and try to do something better.”

But Bagnaia felt his crew had made a major step forward in that area of power delivery through tweaking the electronics set-up on the final day.

Whether this specific change works for Bastianini or not, it seems clear that he is not as at ease as Bagnaia – which was perhaps to be expected, given this was his first multi-day test as a factory rider rather than someone riding hand-me-down machinery, whereas Bagnaia is already firmly established in the Ducati works team.

There’s no real suggestion Bastianini is in any sort of crisis. But his team-mate looks ready to win now – and the the two-day test at Portimao next month may just determine whether Bastianini will be right there with him from the get-go to replicate some of their 2022 duels, or whether it may take the newcomer a few races – which could provide Bagnaia an intra-team head start in points.

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