Ducati ratified the good performance shown on Friday and placed five of the six bikes they have in MotoGP in the top-10 of the starting grid for the GP of Aragon. On September 11, Francesco Bagnaia gave the house of Bologna the 50th pole-position in the premier class of the World Motorbike Championship, destroying the MotorLand record, which lasted for six years.
The Torino rider secured the position of honor by scoring 1min46s322, lowering by 0s313 the record that had been set by Marc Márquez back in 2015. In addition, the 24-year-old led Ducati’s first double since Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso they pulled the line in 2018, also on the Alcañiz track.
# Facts and trivia about the MotoGP Aragon GP
In addition to his good time-taking performance, Pecco also showed a strong race pace. The Italian was one of the three who completed the most laps in 1min48s in practice 4, which drivers normally dedicate to race simulations.
Thus, the member of the VR46 Pilot Academy appears in the list of favorites to win the Aragon GP. The fact, however, is that Pecco has already hit the crossbar a few times: at the GP of Great Britain, for example, Bagnaia had problems with tires on a weekend when he was coming quite hard. In Italy, Miller’s partner fell while leading the race. In Austria, it was the rain that played a trick and stopped the dream of the first triumph.
“I don’t think we’re going to have bad luck tomorrow. I hope to have a normal situation”, said Bagnaia. “At Silverstone we had a problem with the tire and that’s not up to me. I hope there will be a race in the same way that the whole weekend has been running here”, he cheered.
“I hope to start well tomorrow, try to set my pace and see what happens in the first 17 or 18 laps. I think that in the last part of the race, something could happen”, he said. “It all depends on the consumption of the tires. And I think then we will be strong. If I’m strong and I win, it will be fantastic, but the important thing is to be ahead all the time and come to the end with options,” he said.
Pecco explained that he even compared his own performance with Jorge Martín and considered that the Desmosedici worked very well in corners.
“It was a perfect ride. In the first sector, I was already four tenths below my best time so far. The bike helped us a lot when entering the curves”, he pointed out. “I compared Jorge Martín’s data in the last sector, which was doing better than I had so far, and we managed to do the same thing as him. I didn’t expect it, but I’m very happy”, he stressed.
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This Saturday’s performance is in stark contrast to last year, when Ducati’s best result on the grid was fifth place: with Miller at the Aragon GP and with Johann Zarco at the Teruel GP. In the specific case of Bagnaia, the Italian started in 17th and 18th respectively, showing an improvement of 1s437 in comparison between pole position this year and the best lap in the classification of 2020.
“When I arrived here on Thursday, I had a lot of doubts. I thought a lot about how to be fast on this circuit, where I always had difficulties, but after TL1, my feelings improved a lot”, he said. “Since Silverstone, I haven’t changed anything and I felt good on the bike, I just tried to be more competitive in terms of riding”, he detailed.
“It’s a great day for Ducati. Miller, [Jorge] Martin, [Johann] Zarco, [Enea] Bastianini… All Ducati are in the top-10, except for [Luca] Marini. Without a doubt, it is a great result”, he celebrated.
Pecco also warned that it will be important to make a correct choice of tires. So far, hard seems to be the best option for the front, as it offers good support with the high track temperature and grip. At the rear, however, the choice is more difficult, as training indicates that it is possible to race with all three options, although there is still a question regarding wear.
“I think the soft rear tire gives us a good combination of grip and consistency. The hard one wasn’t bad, but I was stronger with the soft one”, said Bagnaia. “I did a lot of laps on the TL4 and had a steady pace, trying out different power maps, so I think I can make it to the end,” he considered.
“You can run at maximum all the time, because you can control the grip on this circuit. I forced it and everything came out comfortably. I had a good pace with 26 laps on the tyre, three more than the race distance”, he recalled. “I saw the rhythm of [Marc] Márquez, who is very competitive, but we also have a rhythm to fight until the end”, he guaranteed.
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0s366 slower than his teammate, Jack has a race pace similar to Francesco’s.
“It was a fantastic day for Ducati, and I’m very happy for both Pecco and myself,” began Miller. “We took big steps forward considering that last year we both couldn’t make it past Q1 and tomorrow we’ll start first and second on the grid,” continued the Australian, who started just 14th at the 2020 Teruel GP.
“I feel comfortable on the bike and I’m happy with my pace, so I’m ready for tomorrow’s race,” he assured. “I expect a very close race, with many drivers ready to fight for victory, so we will have to try to adopt an intelligent strategy and manage the tires well”, he warned.
With 1min46s878, Jorge Martín was the third best Ducati of the day and will start in fifth. The Pramac rider is right behind Marc Márquez, who took him out of the Great Britain GP.
“I won’t think about it tomorrow. When I’m on the grid, I’ll just think about starting the best I can,” said Marc. “We have to study well where to go, whether inside or outside the track, and not get into trouble. If I enter the race being aggressive, I’ll try to get some riders out of the way, so I’ll be aggressive in the first corners”, he continued.
Jorge considered that he is going strong for the race, but recalled that Marc and Fabio Quartararo cannot be ruled out.
“I see myself strong, but the four drivers I have at the front are also very strong. I don’t see myself far from the official Ducati, but I think Marc and Fabio have a little more”, he said.
MotoGP rookie in 2021, Enea Bastianini scored 1min47s278 and secured ninth place on the grid, 0s956 slower than Bagnaia.
“I’m happy because it was my first Q2 of the season and I felt pretty good all day. It was a shame not to be able to finish the second quick lap, besides having suffered a little with the front tire, as I couldn’t do the time I wanted”, reported Enea. “Anyway, it’s good to start in the third row. We also showed a good pace in training, so I think we can see a good race tomorrow”, he stressed.
Johann Zarco scored 1min47s288 and was in tenth place. And he didn’t hide his disappointment with the result.
“I’m a little disappointed. I made the same mistake I made at Silverstone and couldn’t get the most out of the new tyre, consequently wasting time,” admitted Johann. “Tomorrow I will start in the fourth row and give my all to have a good race”, he warned.
Despite the great form shown by Ducati, Fabio Quartararo cannot be ruled out. 0s397 slower than pole time, the World Cup leader will start the race in third, but does not see much potential to fight for the podium.
“I knew I was pretty fast in one lap. Last year we had already taken pole here, but the Ducati were not so fast back then. It was something unexpected for me, but I’m happy with the time I did, because I think it’s the best I could get”, he pondered. “I can improve on the last corner, there is a combination of factors that make us slow there. Tomorrow we will try to improve and work on driving in the last corner thinking about the race”, he continued.
“I don’t set a clear goal for tomorrow. I want to have fun, it would be fantastic to fight for the podium, but, to be honest, I don’t feel I have enough pace to be in this battle”, he assumed. “I’ll try to stay close to the top riders and fight until the end. But we have to be able to take a step forward in the warm-up to be able to think about fighting for the podium”, he highlighted.
One of the resources will be to look at the data from Franco Morbidelli last year, as the Italian-Brazilian won the GP in Teruel ahead of the Suzuki of Álex Rins and Joan Mir.
Who also cannot be ruled out is Marc Márquez. Although the six-time champion is still suffering the consequences of the fracture he suffered in his right arm at the beginning of last year, the Honda owner is the biggest winner at the Alcañiz track, with five victories in the premier class.
“Today we finished fourth. That was our goal, so it’s really good. On the TL4, I felt good with the used tyres, this is positive because I was able to ride well”, pointed out Márquez.
“Tomorrow, we’ll see what my condition will be and if we can fight in the front for the entire race. We have achieved a good pace, but 23 laps in Aragon will be long. We’ll see what happens, but we’ll try to make the most of the situation”, he guaranteed.
Despite being a year without expressive results, the fact that it is an anti-clockwise circuit places the Spaniard as the favorite, since in addition to minimizing his physical difficulties, it is also a feature that Marc has always liked. And it was precisely in a scenario like this that Álex’s brother won the only podium in 2021: the victory at the German GP.
During the weekend at Sachsenring, Marc closed Saturday by ensuring that his unbeaten track record would fall the next day. But that didn’t happen.
“I’ll say the same, maybe the same way,” he joked. “At the moment, I don’t have the level or the ability to do all the laps to the fullest, from the first to the last, and here I’m suffering more than in Germany, because the circuit there is more special, there aren’t just changes of direction and me I felt more comfortable, but here I’m not prepared, I don’t have enough level or physical condition to do all the laps as much as I’d like. But I have enough level to be at the front, so let’s see how I can control things, but the Ducati are very fast, especially Bagnaia, but also Quartararo and Mir. A podium would be a gift, but it will be very difficult”, concluded.
The start of the MotoGP Aragon GP is scheduled for 9am (GMT) on Sunday (12). O BIG PRIZE follows all the activities of the World of Motorspeed 2021.
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