Italian Sam Bagnaia set for hard year in MotoGP

The 20-year-old Valentino Rossi protege is adamant he wants to stay in MotoGP but will not hide his ambition

Giovanni Marcucci, the 20-year-old rider for the Ducati team, is the most recent upstart to burst upon the world championship scene. Whilst his prospects of success are now well established, Pecco Bagnaia is about to embark on what he himself describes as “a very painful race”.

Having made his MotoGP debut in Japan in July, since which he has had two podium finishes to his name, the Italian former junior and KTM criterium world champion feels he will now be afforded a little time off before returning with a fresh approach.

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“I am still very hungry and I still have plenty of tools to improve as a rider,” said Bagnaia. “When I reach my peak I am sure to be much stronger than most riders out there.”

“I’ve gained so much experience over the past two years and by the end of this season I will be even stronger. I’m not worried about my team or my sponsor as I know that I am fully capable of turning in a sensational performance each weekend.

“But in the next few races I need to recover my strength and stay calm as this is a very painful race and I need to enjoy riding. At this point, we will take a step back and then we’ll see what’s ahead for me next year.”

One thing is for sure – the Italy-born rider, who is now based in Lisi, will not be hiding his ambitions and will be laying down a marker by racing at the same event next week as so many Italian legends and world champions have done over the years.

For all that Italy has a great pedigree in MotoGP and its lower divisions, the country is still hungry for success at the highest level, and as far as the young Ducati star is concerned it is only a matter of time before one of the country’s riders retakes the title.

“It is my ambition to win some races, I certainly don’t want to remain a pauper in the world championship,” said Bagnaia. “From Italy there are now several riders capable of challenging for wins and at this moment my preparation focuses completely on top-class races as these give me a real chance to win victories in the world championship.”

The young driver has tested and raced for the Italian KTM team on the track and off, enjoying the winning and congratulatory atmosphere in the series.

“Italy continues to be extremely enthusiastic about motorcycling and there is an incredible support from the Italian public and from within the sport for riders like me,” added Bagnaia. “While at the same time there is always pressure and pressure to perform, while also a need to show that riders from the country are strong, it’s been an extremely rewarding experience.”

It’s all part of the learning curve for the young rider who hopes to become a first-time title challenger with his new Ducati, but can’t wait to return to the track, and the strong tradition of Italian rider winners, next week in the Czech Republic.

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