The 2017 championship is already underway, but this doesn't mean the development and testing has to stop. In the Ducati camp, work continues in an attempt to increasingly improve the performance of the Desmosedici and everything that comes into Gigi Dall’Igna's mind is then placed into the expert hands of Michele Pirro, the all-round test rider in Borgo Panigale, who is following Jorge Lorenzo this year as he works to adapt to the GP17. From yesterday until tomorrow, the Italian is testing at the Tuscan track of Mugello.
Michele, what aspects of the bike are you working on?
“We're trying some solutions relating mainly to the electronics. Day one wasn't as constructive as I'd have liked, as it rained in the afternoon, so we could only make the most of the morning”.
What are the initial sensations?
“Up until now, what we've tried has brought positive results. We're always trying to improve step by step, as we're already at a good level. This is the first test of the year at Mugello so it's important to start from the base set-up and then work to achieve results over the coming days and next month's tests, where Dovizioso and Lorenzo will also ride.”
Will your work lead to changes being made to the GP7 in the short term?
“Not exactly because we're mainly talking about set-up changes, so that the bike performs as well as it can. Right now we're just trying to find indications to give to Lorenzo and Dovizioso”.
Let's talk about the Lorenzo/Ducati season start. What's been the main problem do you think?
“I think that Jorge's main issue is adapting to the Ducati, which for a rider coming from Yamaha has always proved complicated. He is trying to get to grips with the bike; he needs time, though we know that in MotoGP there is never much time while expectations are high. Jorge is a great champion and I'm sure he'll get to where we all want him to be”.
Do you think you and Jorge have found the right path in terms of set-up?
“I'm just trying to help him as I know the bike better, but it's difficult to say what point we're at. We just need some more races to cover more miles; in Argentina he wasn't able to do the race because of the problem at the first corner, while in Qatar he made a few mistakes that saw him run off track for a moment. .So conditions haven't allowed us to see whether we've made a step forward or not. The bike is ready to fight for the top spots, and in time he will also be able to do so”.
Will Ducati be strong at Austin?
“In recent years we've always reached the podium, and last year Dovizioso was strong despite being knocked out. So I expect Ducati to be fighting at the front, and I think Jorge can also start to close in on the kind of positions he deserves. We're coming from a weekend in which Andrea was extremely unlucky, despite being penalised in qualifying he was moving up in the race and proving to be fast. He's confirmed that the package is strong, also in Qatar where he battled with Vinales right until the end.”
Let's change the subject. The Italian CIV championship kicks off this weekend, where you're on track with team Barni. How are you feeling ahead of round one?
“As always I will try to do my best. This is an important commitment for me, as I'm wearing both Ducati and Fiamme Oro police colours, and use the series as a way of keeping up with my training in terms of real racing, in preparation for some wildcard races that I might have in MotoGP. The aim is to be quick, but first and foremost I'm trying to offer my utmost support to Ducati and its projects”.
I imagine you want to make up for last season, when you missed out on the title due to a technical irregularity...
“I don't think about that, it's in the past. Also I proved that I didn't win those races thanks to that irregularity, so I'm not out for revenge or anything like that”.