The 2020 Moto2 world champion picked up his first premier class win and the Gresini team’s first since 2006 when he took victory in the opening round of the 2022 campaign on his year-old Ducati.
After achieving his best MotoGP qualifying in second place, Bastianini should have been in search of victory on Sunday, given that he scored his two podiums last year outside the top 10 on the grid.
But Bastianini felt his potential was simply to score a podium finish in the 22-lap Qatar GP and not claim victory.
“The first one was unexpected because it was great for me today to get on the podium,” Bastianini said. “Getting a victory was so unexpected, but I saw in [team boss] Nadia [Padovani’s] look at Fausto’s motivation [Gresini] progress with this team.
“Plus, when I see all of my guys’ faces, it’s so awesome.”
Padovani took over ownership of the Gresini team when her husband Fausto died of COVID-19 last year and followed up with the team’s return to independent MotoGP status for 2022 after leading the factory effort of Aprilia since 2015.
Bastianini says the atmosphere within the team is “fantastic” and that the team’s motivation made Sunday’s victory possible.
“It’s really good because Fausto had found some really good guys for this team,” he added. “And now Nadia has brought the whole team [together] and the climate is fantastic.
“All the guys are so driven like me and that made it happen today.”
Enea Bastianini, Gresini Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose/Motorsport Images
Bastianini took the lead from Honda’s Pol Espargaro on lap 19 of 22 and immediately had a 1.3s gap over the chasing pack.
But he was pushed hard by KTM’s Brad Binder in the final laps and won by just 0.346 seconds at the checkered flag.
Commenting on his last tour, Bastianini said “it was one of the longest tours of my life”.
He also made a late change on the grid to the medium rear tire after initially opting for the soft, which proved crucial in helping him secure his maiden victory.
“I’m very excited today,” said the Italian. “We saw very good potential in testing and when we got here we took another step on the setup and also with the electronics.
“And yesterday for the first time I had a really good lap in qualifying and today I started from the front row. The best choice for me was middle-back because this morning I tried warming up and I saw good potential.
“Also, the soft, for me, pumped a lot in the slow corners and the medium was more stable. It wasn’t easy, especially the first part of the race because Pol pushed a lot in front.
“But the last 10 laps, it remained the best choice because I pushed a lot and it was still possible to widen the gap.”