In the 2010 MotoGP Championship, Andrea Dovizioso placed his Repsol Honda RC212V on the podium seven times, finishing fifth overall with 206 points. That was his best year in MotoGP, and things are already looking better for his fourth year in the premier class with Repsol Honda.
Dovizioso finished the first Sepang pre-season tests in fifth (combined), and the second in fourth. This weekend Dovi will be at Qatar for the final pre-season MotoGP test before the season opener at the same track on March 20.
In the following interview from Repsol, Dovi, who’s part of the only three-man team in MotoGP (Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa), discusses the upcoming season and his chances of fighting for the championship aboard the Honda RC212V.
Q. This weekend, the last preseason tests before the first race of the World Championship will take place in Qatar. Which do you think will be your position in the battle for the championship?
Andrea Dovizioso says: "I believe we can think about the championship because we have many possibilities to get it. The situation now is that I am not so fast as Dani [Pedrosa] or Casey [Stoner], specially in setting fast laps, but also a little bit in race pace.
"We did both tests in the same circuit, so we need to know which will be the level in another track and the difference with the other rivals. I really think that we have many chances to fight. We still have to improve in some areas and solve the problems with the front end,, but I am confident we will be able to do a very good season. If we will be in the actual battle for the championship, we still don’t know."
Q. The Qatar Grand Prix will last 4 days, what do you think about this change in the usual schedule of a World Championship round?
Andrea Dovizioso says: "I don’t like it very much, because it’s too long. I don’t think having two days with only one session is the best way to work, but it will be the same for everyone, so it won’t be a big trouble."
Q. The Repsol Honda Team has three riders with great potential, you are both going fast and you have a bike that is working very well up to now. It seems this championship will be very fast, what do you think?
Andrea Dovizioso says: "I think this season will be faster and more closely-fought than in the last few years. The level of the Hondas and the Yamahas is very similar and there are six riders that use these two brands that have chances to fight for victory in the races and the championship. We also need to take Valentino into account, as everyone know how strong he is.
"About us, having three riders together in the HRC official team is important and it also gives us a lot of motivation. I had never seen such fast preseason tests as the first and second session we had, where the riders improved their lap times a lot This means that they all want to be in front and is really motivating. It is also important because Honda will have the possibility to always be in the fight for the lead."
Q. Right now, which are the stronger features of the bike?
Andrea Dovizioso says: "Power, that is undoubtedly one of the strongest features. But it is also very strong under breaking. Unfortunately, we still have some trouble with the stability of the rear, but the front end works very well. Traction is also good, so I believe the package is really competitive."
Q. Which do you think is the area that has to be improved?
Andrea Dovizioso says: "We need to solve the problem we found on the front end during the race simulation, because it’s very important. We also have to work on the stability in the rear. There is sometimes some rebound and if we find the way to solve it, the bike will be perfect".
Q. What can you tell us about these three elements of the bike?
Andrea Dovizioso says:
(Clutch): "I think it is the cause of the lack of stability. I am not an engineer, but this is what I feel."
(Engine brake): "We noticed a big improvement in the first day of the second test in Malaysia, so I am happy with the engineer’s work."
(New suspensions): "The 2011 suspensions are very good, the offer better feedback to the riders and we are able to brake later. There are some vibes in the front, but it doesn’t appear on the data – it seems it’s something only the riders feel – so it is not a big problem."