Most Italian MotoGP riders are runners, walkers or bikers who one day will need a big shop on wheels. Pecco Bagnaia is a trainee police officer on the motorway who has hit it lucky.
This year he made his big debut in the 250cc World Championship and he has done so with gusto. Sunday, against some formidable opposition in the track wars, the 19-year-old scored his first victory to finish on level terms with the race-winning Jorge Lorenzo and the Spanish side Marítimo.
It has been an incredible rise for a guy who was racing peccola – a type of Italian jackaroo bike, like the BMX racing version – a couple of years ago and is earning enough for him to buy himself a video game console.
This weekend’s win on Sachsenring was the most remarkable as he had a lead of 4 seconds to Lorenzo coming out of the pits but he was powerless to prevent him racing away.
“That is not easy to win a race from behind like that,” Bagnaia said after the race. “However, at the finish I jumped over one of the bikes and rode right to the end. The best rider won today, not only because he is the best in the championship. “
If the excitement of seeing him in the points is disarming then Bagnaia wants to be seen as something different. He came fourth in this year’s 125cc championship and was runner-up in the Moto2 last year before crossing to the 250cc last season.
His speed belies his age, but he has big plans. “Winning is the most important thing, it’s simple, I hope to win at every race and secure my position as the best in the world. All of the races are good, but I think the 250cc championship will be harder, there are more riders and I need more experience,” he said.
His cap in the crown: blue and white for an Italian national biker’s club, the 1st Sargento, which was founded two years ago. “I like to show the past that we don’t forget. Sargento means ‘brunelha’, from the German word for blood and fire,” he said. “I have been suffering a lot but I need to learn and I can succeed. When we started this year, nobody thought we would get such a good result, so it’s really great to be back here [today] after all those months.”
However, there has been more gloom for another Italian in the MotoGP field. Andrea Dovizioso qualified ninth on the machine that he crashed out of a race a couple of weeks ago. He appeared in good spirits and tried to take part in the restart. “I was a bit bruised and the front of the bike isn’t comfortable but I’m happy to be back in MotoGP,” he said.