Italian Grand Prix: Pecco Bagnaia – a MotoGP rookie to watch

Written by by By Charlie Egerton, CNN For many riders the world famous street circuit of the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo is seen as the pinnacle of their careers. But for Pecco Bagnaia,…

Italian Grand Prix: Pecco Bagnaia - a MotoGP rookie to watch

Written by by By Charlie Egerton, CNN

For many riders the world famous street circuit of the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo is seen as the pinnacle of their careers. But for Pecco Bagnaia, riding on it won’t necessarily make him the world’s best MotoGP rider.

The 24-year-old from Turin is something of a novice in MotoGP after only making his racing debut in 2015. He set out to emulate the great Valentino Rossi , the four-time MotoGP champion, and has already turned heads.

Now he’s feeling the pressure of expectation ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, which will be held at Monza from April 4 to 5, next year.

“After a long season there is still the pressure to do my very best in next year’s Italian Grand Prix. I hope to get the best results again,” he said in an interview with CNN Sport.

Improving every year

Bagnaia’s form continues to improve with each race. He was top-six in both this year’s races in California and Sepang , and finished in a solid ninth spot at the Valencia GP last month.

There has also been good news in the form of a new MV Agusta bike which sees the former 250cc world champion adding to his credentials as a future MotoGP contender.

The TTJA Mopa Mopa, a limited edition of 100 which will have yellow-colored wheels and with a price tag of 9,500 euros, is the first of many development model bikes from the re-engineered MV Agusta, which will eventually replace the 250cc Lorenzo SP, according to Bagnaia.

“The TTJA Mopa Mopa bike changes the dynamic of my career completely,” he said. “It’s still a race bike, so I’ll have to gain some experience. But if it is part of a new performance cycle I’ll definitely ride it in some races. I believe that this new machine is very exciting and it can be a stepping stone for me.”

Bagnaia is also looking to win more time for MV Agusta in MotoGP as he encourages the company to step up the development cycle to compete with the big boys.

“With our next two race bikes, I believe we can compete with the Pramac Racing 400cc and the Albarino 375cc bikes. We must do everything we can to make sure we’re leading the development cycle with the same speed and enthusiasm as we have done with the younger bikes,” he said.

Moto2 and 250cc goals

A racer on the 250cc Moto2 circuit, Bagnaia finished fourth in his first race in 2015 and won the same podium position a year later before claiming his maiden top five finish in 2016 . That year he finished sixth in GP2.

“I am super happy and satisfied with my performances and times so far,” he said. “I’m very happy with my results in GP2 as I am feeling much more comfortable in my way.”

It’s not all good news for Bagnaia though. He suffered a broken jaw at the Sept. 30 Mexican Grand Prix at Circuit de Mexico which came close to missing the remainder of the season.

After a successful recovery at the Federal University Hospital in Rome, Bagnaia finished in 10th place in the Japanese Grand Prix on October 1.

“I have a very bad bruise in my face and side, which must be looked after for some time, ” he said. “I’m really happy to be back with MotoGP and hope I have good results in November.”

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