Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati says he will want to “enjoy” race weekends more in 2022, citing mentor and MotoGP veteran Valentino Rossi’s “secret” during his career.
In a breakout season for the factory Ducati rider, Bagnaia won four races and finished second in the standings to Fabio Quartararo, missing the championship by 26 points.
Last September, the Italian won his first MotoGP race after a heated battle with six-time world champion Marc Marquez at the Aragon Grand Prix.
Bagnaia told Autosport’s Tank Slappers podcast that this was the highlight of his 2021 season, and that it was from this point on that he began to appreciate every facet of a race weekend.
“For me the win in Aragon was the incredible one,” Bagnaia said. “First win, an incredible battle with Marc. I enjoyed a lot all the weekend.
“From that moment I started to enjoy it a lot; every session and every weekend I did in the last part of the season.
“So, I think I have to work on that to be always concentrated and to enjoy it every time. And I think it was the secret of Vale, to enjoy it every time he was riding.
“So, for sure Aragon has started something in my mind, and also something in my career. I think I have to work on it and be always like that.”
Rossi, a nine-time motorcycle grand prix world champion, retired from the sport at the end of the 2021 season.
On 2022, though, he will keep a presence in the paddock with his VR46 team and VR46 Academy riders, including Bagnaia.
Bagnaia, who is expected to be a title contender from the start in 2022, expects Rossi to “be very close to me” in this case – but hasn’t asked for any more assistance from Rossi, who is set to pursue careers in GT racing.
“I think in that situation he will be very close to me, or close to the rider that will need Vale’s help,” Bagnaia said when asked if he would ask for help from Rossi should he be in a position to win the championship.
“So, he’s our mentor and will help us for sure. Will not be easy because he’ll be on his new work with the cars, but for us he will be with us every time.”
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