Francesco Bagnaia powered his Desmosedici GP to the top of the timesheets in ideal conditions on the opening day of the Italian GP at the Mugello Circuit, the sixth round of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship.
Still suffering from the aftermath of a minor ankle fracture he picked up three weeks ago at Le Mans, the current points leader took things relatively calmly in the morning session, clocking a time of 1:46.839, which put him in P16. In the one-hour afternoon session however, the Ducati Lenovo Team rider benefitted from a rear setting change to launch his time attack on soft tyres in the last few minutes. Last year’s Mugello winner eventually ended up with a time of 1:45.436, 63 thousandths clear of his closest championship rival and fellow Ducati rider Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Racing Team).
Bagnaia’s teammate Enea Bastianini, back on track for the first time since abandoning Jerez Free Practice at the start of May, also took a cautious approach on his return, finishing one position ahead of Bagnaia in Practice 1 in fifteenth. The rider from Rimini then moved up the timesheets in the final minutes with a time-attack lap of 1:45.635 an improvement of more than one second to slot into sixth place.
Francesco Bagnaia (#1 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1st (1:45.436)
“Luckily I’m feeling well. I’m having more pain walking than riding the bike, so it’s OK. Thanks to the boot, I don’t have any issue. I’m happy with the performance, we worked well today. We improved a lot compared to this morning, when we decided not to go with the soft rear, it didn’t rain so it was a good strategy. Also in terms of feeling with used tyres, I’m very happy and I feel prepared for the Sprint Race tomorrow. The time-attack went well in one of the most wonderful tracks in the calendar, so I’m happy about the first day. For sure we have to wait a bit because it looks like the conditions will change tomorrow with rain, but we are prepared for everything. I’m happy to be in Q2, and my goal is to do a smart race because in case of rain it’s important to be competitive and not take many risks.”
Enea Bastianini (#23 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 6th (1:45.635)
“It’s been a positive day for me, especially because I am finally back on my Desmosedici GP. At the end of the day, I was a bit tired, because I spent a lot of energy especially in the last part of Practice 2. I was fast, I made a good lap time, which was unexpected for me and the team but I don’t know if I can remain at this level for all the weekend. To do one lap is fine but I don’t know if I’m strong for all the duration of the race. Now I am in Q2, this was one goal to arrive directly, it’s a great result for me and the team, who were really happy. Tomorrow we also have qualifying and the race afterwards, and probably it will be wet, which is another different situation. It might help me a little to save my shoulder for Sunday.”
- From Ducati Media House