Bezzecchi still does not feel «automatic» on Ducati GP23 in MotoGP

Having finished third in his sophomore campaign last year with victories in Argentina, France and India, Bezzecchi was expected to carry his form into 2024 as he moved to the GP23 bike with which Francesco Bagnaia won the 2023 title for the factory Ducati team.

Although still not getting parity in equipment to some other riders within the Ducati stable after foregoing a move to Pramac, the Italian has made an underwhelming start to the new season, struggling to 14th in the Qatar opener before grabbing a more respectable sixth-place result in Portugal.

With zero additional points from the two sprint races held so far, Bezzecchi sits a distant 13th in the championship and ahead of only one Ducati rider in the standings — the recovering Franco Morbidelli.

Speaking at Portimao, the 25-year-old explained that he still does not feel natural on the 2023-spec Desmosedici, as he continues his adaptation from the GP22 bike that behaved completely differently under braking.

“I have to change [my riding style],» he said. «I’m still trying to change because it’s still not automatic for me to ride in this way.

“Last year I was really strong to bring the bike in[to the corners] with a lot of braking, a lot of pressure on the brake. I was really strong on that point, to stop the point at an angle.

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“This bike works in the opposite way, so it has to stop really well in a straight. But then you have to release the brake to make the bike turn.

“When you keep the brake, the bike is turning less compared to last year, so for me it’s still not really natural to go in and release the brake. My instinct tells me to keep the brakes.

“But making some changes on the bike, I’m trying to focus a lot on doing this while riding. I made some big improvements, [Portimao] is also a difficult track for these kinds of things because you have many braking [areas] at an angle. So I’m working on it.”

Bezzecchi made another tardy start in the Portuguese GP sprint last month, tumbling from sixth on the grid to 13th by the end of the opening lap.

It marked the continuation of a trend seen throughout his MotoGP career, which has often left him with too many places to make up after relatively strong qualifying sessions.

At last year’s Thailand GP, for instance, Bezzecchi qualified a promising fourth on the grid, only to make a poor launch on his GP22 and then fall further to 10th after running wide at Turn 1.

The three-time grand prix winner said race starts is still an area where he is not performing at an optimum level, even if it’s something that was never his strong point.

Photo by: Media VR46

“In the sprint, I unfortunately made a mistake at the start,” he explained. “I’m still struggling with the starts.

“This clutch is really tough and unfortunately, it’s been three years for me. It’s really difficult to be constant in starts. During these years I never made three or four good starts in a row.

“The clutch feeling is always different. So unfortunately, I got a big wheelie in the beginning so I lost acceleration. So after [that] I was in the mid-pack.

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“The Ducati clutch is really tough from my first year in MotoGP. I’ve never been a hero on starts, even with the Moto2 [bike].

“But once I changed to the MotoGP [bike], I really struggled a lot. Last year I was able to be constantly, not perfect, but at least quite good.

«In Qatar this year with this bike I started very well but here [in Portugal] unfortunately, no.”

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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