“I know you say I'm never content, but I am simply realistic.” Dovizioso laughs as he leaves the press conference after taking his first pole position in 24 races and Ducati's first in 19. The rider from Forlì made the right moves in qualifying and it paid off.
“My initial strategy was not to come in to change tyres, but I decided to change it - he explains - I did the right thing, plus I was lucky to go back out behind Valentino. Having him as a reference point made it easier to do the time.”
Is that it?
“Actually, FP4 was very important in preparing for the qualifiers. I realised how difficult it was to manage the front and we made a few changes to the bike, plus I adapted my lines to the track conditions.”
Are you happy?
“Very much so with the work done throughout the weekend. It was about time after a hard race like Barcelona. I didn't expect to be so fast. I was also able to figure out and take the best possible advantage of the situation in qualifying. I had a fresh mind.”
“My pace is very good, but it isn't the same as Valentino's. He is faster. I am still lacking a bit of consistency for the race.”
In what sense?
“I'm fast, and that is important, but it still isn't easy to maintain it for the entire race. We are still lacking something to be in the game at the same level as Honda and Yamaha, with riders like Rossi, Marquez and Lorenzo. It isn't easy and I still don't have all the cards to play the way I'd like.”
What are your chances for a win tomorrow?
“I'd say that this is a good opportunity. At Assen anything is possible. I just need to stay calm.”
In a certain sense, this is also Iannone's strategy, who cannot simply be in a rush. “Patience always pays off. I'll need to have someone give me a shot” jokes the rider from Abruzzo. His day was different from that of his rivals, since he did not have to worry about a position on the starting grid, due to being penalised.
“In FP3 I lapped the whole time with used tyres and I was fast, at the same level as the leaders. In FP4, in the wet, I only took a few laps because I didn't have great sensations. There wasn't much grip at the front and it was easy to crash.”
How did you tackle qualifying?
“The rain tyres didn't give me a great deal of confidence and I took a risk with the intermediates. It wasn't a bad idea, but I would have needed another lap to put in a good time. Also, having tried them today could give me a slight advantage if they turn out to be an option for the race.”
You will start last. Has that ever happened to you before?
“Never, but it is a strange starting grid where some fast riders are behind and other, slower ones, are up front. That could play out in my favour.”
What is the strategy?
“I know it won't be easy, but at Mugello I was in 14th in the first lap and then I finished on the podium. The first two laps will definitely be very important if I want to ride a good race. I also managed to improve the bike, so now it takes less strength. It's a compromise, but we were able to reach it without making any radical changes.”