Pecco Bagnaia starts the Aragon MotoGP from pole position on Sunday afternoon, as he looks to seal a fifth straight victory in the championship and carry on making inroads into Fabio Quartararo’s championship lead.
The Italian rider labelled his pole-winning lap at MotorLand Aragon on Saturday as one of his best-ever laps as he took P1 ahead of Ducati team-mate Jack Miller, whilst Enea Bastianini will join them on the front row for lights out.
Indeed, the Ducati-powered bikes are looking particularly strong here with four of the top five running Bologna-based power and Bagnaia will be hoping that can spur him onto another win as he looks to reel in Quartararo who starts P6.
To look ahead to the race, then, we spoke to the BT Sport commentary team, Gavin Emmett, Neil Hodgson and Michael Laverty, live at Aragon, to get their thoughts on whether anyone can stop Bagnaia or whether it’s going to be another victory for the in-form 25-year-old.
“He’s called it one of his best qualifying laps which is remarkable, considering that he took all those poles last year. Can anyone stop him though in the race? I see it a bit differently because this is going to be a tyre management race and a race of attrition. He’s great from the front leading, but we saw last race that Enea Bastiaini has got what it takes especially late in races. He’s got something that means the way he rides with his style that he always has a bit of tyre [left.] He took the fastest lap on the last lap of the race last time and messed up turn four in the process, so I think he will have a say in it.
“Jack Miller I would say Pecco might have the measure of because I think usually Pecco is stronger in the latter stages than Jack. The question for me then is whether Ducati have had a word. Claudio Domenicali, the big boss, wasn’t happy that Bastianini could have taken them both out [last time out] but I don’t think anyone really feels that. I think it’s great, fans love Bastiaini having a go but I don’t think you can look beyond Pecco.”
“It’s definitely [Pecco’s] to lose. But the beauty of our sport is that just when you think you’ve got it figured out and you think, ‘oh yeah, on paper, you look at it as if he should walk it tomorrow, he’s really good at managing races where tyre life plays a part and that’s at this track. It’s one of his favourite tracks, so he’s gonna win,’ it doesn’t work like that in our sport. You’ve got to survive the first lap, you’ve got to survive the first corner which is a 90-degree right-angle corner and you can get nerfed off the track. There are so many factors that come into motorcycle racing. He is the favourite, but I’m not going to sit here and put a lot of money on him to win the race! I’ve learned that mistake too many times, saying this guy is definitely going to win and they get punted off at turn one of the race!”
“The problem [Quartararo has] is that it’s too hard to battle when you’ve got a horsepower deficit. I think it is a case of if [Fabio] could have gotten the front row of the grid and been leading into turn one, then he could control the race but no, making those overtakes with a horsepower deficit is almost impossible. So you’ve got to hope for mistakes in front of him or something that opens the door and lets him get through. Otherwise, it will be a case of just limiting the damage and trying to protect from behind. So we’ll have the likes of Martin and Marini and Bezzecchi that will be coming out and you’ve got three fast-looking Ducatis at front of the grid, so it’s not gonna be easy for Fabio there.
“Where he’s on the grid, it’s quite tight on the inside. Sometimes that can be a cannonball effect so as long as he gets through there clean and he hopes that someone leaves the door open for him, he’s good at thinking on the fly as the risks develop. So if an opportunity presents itself he will take full advantage but we have seen him haemorrhaging points at the moment with Ducati being so strong and we’re just seeing him as the lone wolf out there fighting for Yamaha’s honour and trying to get this championship across the line.”
BT Sport is the home of MotoGP. Watch all the live action from MotoGP Aragon on BT Sport 2 from 16 – 18 September. Find out more at bt.com/sport/motogp