Everything is about racing in the life of a MotoGP rider. His daily routine, as well as his yearly calendar is marked by a precise schedule of training sessions, races, and recovery time. A sudden change in the calendar is a challenge to keep motivation levels high, and to take the best from every new situation. Discipline, but also adaptation, are the essential keys of the success of a champion, and Pecco Bagnaia knows this well.
The 24-year-old Italian is using this long wait for the start of the championship in a positive way. Training remains central in his daily routine, because it is important to keep the intensity, but this also the time to re-group, to cultivate passions, without forgetting the bigger picture.
Pecco Bagnaia had a very good winter test session after a difficult 2019 championship season. His number one priority was to work hard physically and mentally to raise the bar for the coming year, and gain the necessary mindset to compete at the best with the 20 top riders of the world weekend after weekend.
“My debut season in MotoGP was more difficult than I expected. The Moto2 class is very competitive, but the switch from the Moto3 was smooth. I increased my physical training, and I adapted quickly to the new bike and the new class. I won the Moto2 title on the second year.” Explains Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia.
“MotoGP, on the contrary, is another story. In a way, the fact that I had won the Moto2 title in 2018 made me live in a bubble. I was living in a fairy tale, as I had finally achieved the dream of becoming a world champion that I was cultivating since I was a kid.
“If I look back at the season, I can say that I worked hard, but it was not enough. I had to make a shift and change my mentality, the preparation, and the approach to the race weekend. I learned the lesson well. Being a MotoGP rider requires a full commitment: you need to breath, eat, and be completely into it. I worked hard during the winter, and now I’m fully focused.
“Last year I was stronger in the time attack, while I was struggling in the race, so over the winter I focused on improving my pace. I also adapted my riding style. I have always had a smooth riding style, but this doesn’t pay on a Ducati. I needed to adapt myself and become more aggressive following the example of other Ducati riders, like Andrea Dovizioso, who is able to close the gap and ride over the limits of the Ducati Desmosedici”.
As a rider of the VR46 Academy, the 24-year-old Italian has the privilege to train with Valentino Rossi and to be followed by a professional staff for his physical and mental preparation.
“I have always been inspired by Valentino, and he is still inspirational to me. I consider myself lucky because I can train with him in Tavullia. Vale is an example and a boost to improve myself. From him I learned the value of humility, and his incredible hunger to raise the bar always a little bit higher. Despite he has nothing to prove, Vale keeps on training more than anyone else, giving us the example. None has his motivation to make sacrifices and to improve, to enjoy, and to try to win. I admire his calm in managing the race weekend, and his skill to ride over the limits of the bike.
“Being a member of the Academy is a huge advantage. This is an incredible motivation to give our 100 per cent to re-pay all the attentions we receive. The Academy is like a family. We are friends, but when we train at the Ranch, the competition is king. This is an incredible boost to give always our best and maintain the concentration”.
Pecco Bagnaia is used to follow the strict preparation program of the Academy in the gym, and at least twice a week with the bike at the Ranch. Considering the current situation, Pecco is training at home. “We usually train in a public gym. In this moment this is not possible because we should train behind closed doors and with the attendance of a doctor. I am training at home, despite I don’t have a proper gym. At the end of February, we succeeded to ride at the Ranch, taking care of all the safety precautions. We maintained the distance among each other, we avoid taking the shower over there, we wash and sanitize our hands. Now this is very limited even if professional athletes have a special permission to train”.
With the majority of the contracts expiring at the end of the year, it’s crucial to get good results to gain a seat for the 2021 season. “My target is to do better than my Ducati mates so that I can renew my contract. Reviewing my 2019 season, I realized that I had to modify my approach to the races. I have worked a lot on this, and I will give my maximum since FP1. I want to have good result since the beginning to sevure a seat for next year ”.
Keeping the motivation high has also become a challenge in this difficult time. “It’s a difficult moment worldwide. There is a lot of un-certitude. “For us, that we are used to a precise schedule, it’s difficult to keep the momentum and the motivation high when we don't know when the season will kick off. After the postponements of Thailand, Texas and Argentina, we still don’t know if it will be possible to return racing the first week of May at Jerez. The situation is evolving day by day, not only in Italy, but also in Europe, and the rest of the world. What we can do now, is to remain at home, giving our small contribution to this sanitary emergency”.
Pecco Bagniaia is originally from Turin but at the end of 2013 he moved to Pesaro when he joined the VR46 Academy to be closer to the Ranch and train with Valentino Rossi. In this very delicate moment, Pecco didn’t forget his origins and decided to give his contribution, promoting a charity campaign called “Together vs the Coronavirus”. Through a video posted on his social channels, the Ducati Pramac racer asked his fans to raise funds to support the intensive care departments of the Molinette Hospital in his hometown Turin. In these days of quarantine in Italy, the motorsport world has distinguished itself for a true competition in charity campaigns. Valentino Rossi was among the firsts to answer to the appeal of his region, Marche, with an important donation. Through the social media campaign #distantimauniti (#farbutunited), the Doctor and the VR46 riders became the ambassadors of the message that it is an absolute priority to follow the instructions and remain at home, and distant – at least one metre - among each other. Distant but united in the common goal to stop the spread of the virus in order to return as soon as possible to normality.
If he was not a MotoGP rider, you could find Pecco in the kitchen. He inherited the passion for cooking from his family. “My father used to run some restaurants, and I have always been fascinated by the dedication of the people who were preparing the food in the kitchen. I have always cultivated this passion. I just bought a new oven, and I’m experimenting with new recipes. It’s good fun. My favourite recipe? Spaghetti Amatriciana with bacon and pecorino cheese!”