MotoGP current is based on some key points, and one of these it is undeniably braking. An aspect that often makes a difference in the race, allowing some riders to emerge and at the same time slowing down others. Pecco Bagnaia knows this well and, speaking on the subject at the invitation of Brembo, has told his truth about it, starting from first encounter with the carbon brakes of a MotoGP, which took place in Valencia in 2016.
“The transition from steel to carbon is the thing that has stuck with me the most: it was shocking in the early laps – says Pecco – but I have never had that blocking effect that other pilots have encountered. I don’t remember that test as an overall shocking experience, I just remember that it took me a while to get used to it and now when I try a bike without carbon brakes I struggle slightly more ”.
You also experienced a complicated moment in Valencia, namely the rollover in 2019 during FP3. Is it something that can happen or is it an isolated episode?
“On that occasion I could do little about it, given that the brake locked more and more, something not repeatable in my opinion. It was a small problem with major consequences ”.
How do you imagine an amateur riding a MotoGP? What would happen in the first braking sessions with carbon brakes?
“It would go long, the gravel is very close (laughs). An amateur might get scared, given that if you don’t keep them up to temperature they are unpredictable, and they can lead you to nail. In fact, all the drivers try to warm them up already in the pit lane, giving the first braking a subsequent great heat, which helps to make the first lap quietly. An amateur accustomed to other speeds would struggle to bring them up to temperature, sometimes I struggle too “.
After Jerez there were complaints about the difficulties in overtaking. What do you think about it?
“I don’t think it’s difficult to overcome. In Argentina I started 13th and finished 5th, in Portimao last and I finished 8th, so I think that overtaking can be done with or without carbon brakes, as well as with or without wings. When you spin faster than your opponent you are inevitably able to overtake. If you are only slightly faster than the one in front of you, you have a harder time, but you still succeed, so I don’t see any particular limitations. Did Aleix Espargarò struggle to overtake Miller and Marquez? The two of them pull off hard, while he prefers the distance and the corner exit, so they have different styles ”.
Bagnaia: “In Moto2 I didn’t use the rear brake, in MotoGP you are obliged to do so”
You are considered to be one of the strongest breakaways on the grid. Do you agree?
“Now the braking is divided into several parts: there is braking from the straight, the entry phase and the release of the brakes. Among the Ducati riders I think I’m the one who understood the first part best, and how to bring a lot of speed into corners, which is now helping me so much to be fast. It’s not easy, because you have to put a lot of load on the front, with the risk that it closes, but it’s needed ”.
Would you steal a phase of braking from some of your rivals? If so who?
“Difficult to say, because each rider has his own style. Of course I like how Miller manages to spin the bike in the last entry phase, giving a very strong ram with the rear brake. I find that he really has a lot of control over this phase, which I would like to steal from him. “
How do you use the rear brake?
“When I arrived in MotoGP, I came from a period in which I hadn’t used it in Moto2, as it made riding difficult, and the Honda engine already had a lot of engine braking of its own. With MotoGP, I had to start using it immediately: in left-hand corners I use my foot, in right-hand corners I use the thumb brake. I would like to be able to always use the foot, but the balance that I have found now helps me a lot ”.
One of the most incredible breakers in the past was Casey Stoner, who used the rear brake instead of traction control. Has this technique been replicated by anyone?
“I talked a lot with Gabarrini (Christian, chief engineer of Pecco and in the past of Stoner ed) about it. He often told me how much Casey was good at understanding track grip, and the power he could unload with the rear brake: at that time the traction controls were not as developed as they are now, and the 2007 Ducati 800 was very explosive, so much so that it was necessary to find a square. Seeing Casey driving in those years was fascinating to me, given that did great things with an almost undriveable bike “.
How would you describe Le Mans from a braking point of view?
“It is less complicated as a track than Jerez, but the temperatures must always be monitored very carefully. There are two or three difficult braking sections, which make braking essential here too: last year I had no problems, even if the cold makes it difficult to always keep the brakes warm ”.
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