On Sunday afternoon, Andrea Dovizioso was in little doubt; he will have to test and re-confirm certain parts at the final MotoGP preseason test in Qatar, but Ducati’s GP18 is a step up from its predecessor.
As team-mate Jorge Lorenzo appeared lost at sea, going back and forth between the GP17 and GP18 on the final day of testing in Thailand, Dovizioso was a picture of calm, confident in his initial impressions of the new bike that he had formed at Sepang two weeks before.
“There isn't a big difference, but in Malaysia it was clear, so there is no reason for me to compare again,” said the Italian, who had two GP18s in his garage throughout the inaugural MotoGP outing at the Chang International Circuit.
“We didn't compare the GP17 and GP18 [here], and I didn't follow really a lot the other riders. I think what we feel in Malaysia, it was clear, so I have no question mark about that.”
The runner up in the ’17 world championship ended the test with the seventh fastest time, but remained uninterested in the timesheets ("whether I'm better than the competitors ... I don't know and I don't care so much in this moment"). Instead, he was busy evaluating an updated chassis and different aerodynamic fairings on the final day.
After saying his first day on the newest frame was inconclusive on Saturday, a further morning and afternoon of amassing experience offered up positive feelings, with the 31-year old noting he had a little more leverage on the handlebars with the new frame.
“This morning we worked more on the chassis, and I feel something different to yesterday, and it was positive," said Dovizioso. "I did the lap time with the new chassis. It's not too different, but have some positive and some negative points.
“But overall I feel good. Like I said yesterday, most of the time when you try something, it's not easy to feel immediately the difference. You have to try day by day in a different track to really confirm and take a decision for this season.
“And today it happened, I think we understood a little bit more than yesterday, and I feel good. But we have to wait for Qatar. These two tracks I don't think are best tracks to take a decision, but these are the tracks we have now. And we have to use them in the best way.
“I'm happy about today, about the lap time. Unfortunately I couldn't put every good sector in the same lap, but this is not important. To make 1m 29.9s and 1m30.1s will not affect the season or the feeling I had.
“So I'm happy about the feeling I had with the bike about the pace, but really going into the details and who has a good pace is impossible here because with the tyre we have in the allocation, the riders are able to use a lot of kinds of tyres, and I don't think any one of these tyres will be here in October. So it's important.
“I'm happy in the way we work and what we understood about our material. Apart from that, I feel good, I feel fast, and that's it. About whether I'm better than the competitors, in which position I am, I don't know and I don't care so much in this moment, because it's not the point.”
On the positives of the new chassis, he revealed, “I feel better in the way I can use the handlebars. I feel different, the way you use the handlebars feels different. And this I like. These are small things, but in the chassis, what you can find is something like that. Not something huge.”
So it makes riding the Ducati a little easier? “Maybe this is too much,” he smiled. “But I feel good.”
Considering last year’s performances and his preseason speed, Dovizioso will surely go into the upcoming season as one of the men most likely to challenge reigning champion Marc Marquez. Unable to go under the radar as he has done previously, the Italian will surely face more pressure in the build up to the first race on March, 18th.
Not that he is seeing this as a negative. “For sure there is more pressure, but in this moment, I don't feel that pressure in a bad way,” he said. “I'm just happy in the situation I am in, I think compared to last year, we know we can fight, which last year we didn't know. So I'm happy to be in this condition.”
Clearly wary to read too much into lap times at a new track with unique conditions as riders used different tyre specs to set their fastest times, Dovizioso was still able to form a general idea of where several of his rivals stand.
“I can see Marc in a better shape than at the beginning of last year, I can see Dani [Pedrosa] in a good shape, I can see [Johann] Zarco with a little bit more experience, so a little bit better for the championship than last year.
“It's very difficult to understand the two factory Yamahas, because they will be fast in the race, on race weekends, for sure. But when you look at the riders and the teams from outside, it's impossible to know the details, so I don't know. I can see the Pramac riders are fast, they are happy with the bike, so I think they will be quite fast during the season.”
Source : http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/889860/1/dovizioso-no-question-gp18-better