Surprising Italian star ‘starts the fire’ for new MotoGP rider

Pecco Bagnaia is already a trailblazer in Italian motorcycle racing, and now the rising star aims to do even more this season.

While the sport in the United States may seem like a bit of a distant dream for the rider from Parma, home of Italian motorcycling legend Valentino Rossi, “Moto3” champion Robetschi Gendarso of Slovenia claimed the international pole position with a European premiere in Krumkofer, Switzerland last week. The performances of the two riders gave the Swiss circuit plenty to be happy about, especially as Slovakia’s Jan “Mk2” Kubinisky looks likely to win the world title in the same class after a successful grand prix debut.

Bagnaia, however, has his sights set on the bigger prize, and not just because his countrymen Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso have also been dominating MotoGP. “I’m ready to fight for the world championship,” the 22-year-old told Eurosport.

Bagnaia’s talent has not gone unnoticed by Valentino Rossi, currently the greatest MotoGP rider in history, who used to race against him. The two dined together before last year’s British Grand Prix, and it looks like the older man is passing on his knowledge to the younger in the cockpit.

“He has great ideas about the bike,” Bagnaia said. “He knows every detail and he is very professional.”

With a program that involves 15 race weekends, like Dovizioso, he might find himself fighting in other places than the USA this season, although the younger man has hinted in the past that he would like to ride one day in the United States.

Despite the arrival of MV Agusta in the American MotoGP, the MotoGP classes dominated by Honda are considerably smaller, which is why American rival Bobby Rahal believes Bagnaia will develop in Italy. He even confirmed earlier this year that Ducati offered him a MotoGP test.

“It would be great to test in Italy,” he said. “There, the environment is different from MotoGP. It’s also the last chance to race in Italy, the land where I have an Italian birthright. There are some important teams there, and it would be great for me.”

Now he can use it. Bagnaia is tentatively scheduled to test for the first time with Fiat Repartee in June, and will race under his own Factory Honda Racing team at the various tracks he has tested at.

“I’m in great shape right now,” Bagnaia said. “My life has changed a lot this year. I’ve learnt that big things come from modest beginnings.”

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