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Ducati Lenovo Team's 2023 line-up of Pecco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini went toe-to-toe on more than one occasion in 2022, with the score currently level at 2-2 following their four memorable clashes. Bastianini got the better of his fellow Italian at Le Mans and then again at MotorLand Aragon, whilst Bagnaia came out on top at his home Grand Prix in Misano and at the penultimate round in Sepang.
The rivalry first kicked into life at the French Grand Prix, when Bastianini's pressure eventually forced Bagnaia to crash out. Speaking after his third win of the season, The Beast said he believed Bagnaia didn't want him as a teammate in 2023 because he would be "a problem" for the now MotoGP™ World Champion.
Love at first sight: Bagnaia reveals #1 plate motivations
Fast forward a few months, and with Bagnaia now in the heart of the Championship fight, Bastianini came within 0.034 seconds of denying Bagnaia a vital win on home soil only to then steal five crucial points away from him on the final lap of the Aragon Grand Prix just two weeks later.
It all then came to a head at the penultimate round of 2022, when Bagnaia had his first opportunity at sealing the premier class crown. Bastianini wasn't set on making it easy for his factory counterpart, overtaking Bagnaia for the lead and causing great panic inside the Ducati Lenovo Team garage. Bagnaia would eventually get the better of the 2020 Moto2™ World Champion but the tense affair created much debate afterward on the state of the relationship between the two.
Now, the pair will be sitting side-by-side in the Bologna factory's garage throughout 2023, with both clear in their intentions to try and win the MotoGP™ World Championship. During Ducati's Campioni in Pista event, the much-talked-about Italian duo spoke of their relationship and ever-growing rivalry.
"I want to win" - Bastianini unwilling to play second fiddle
"Like he said last year, he’s a bastard!," Bagnaia said with a laugh. "Because he pushes like a bastard. But no, I think he’s a smart guy. A very competitive guy. We want the same thing and we will do our maximum to achieve it. The battle between us will be intense, but we have to be intelligent and respectful to have a good relationship."
"The big difference is Pecco is MotoGP World Champion and me, no!,” Bastianini replied. “He was, I think, really fast when he was young. We have battled a lot with pocket bikes, after with the MiniGP, in Moto3, and now he’s the fastest rider in the world. It is a pleasure to battle, to fight with him this year, and to try to win."