The relationship between Phillip Island and Andrea Dovizioso has been a difficult one in recent years, the Italian is unable to fully express his potential at the Australian track. “I don't want to think about last year's race, it was a difficult, frustrating weekend” he recalls. His only win at the Island was back in 2004, in 125, and his last podium was in 2011.
“This track doesn't suit me and there's a technical reason for this - he explains - With my riding style, I am at an advantage when there is hard braking and aggressive corner-entry. If you do this at Phillip Island though, you only go slower, you need to have a more flowing style. This is why a rider might appear to have an advantage at one track and more trouble at another."
Despite this, things might be different this year.
“I'm pleased to come to Phillip Island at this time and in this way, after the Motegi podium - he continues - That kind of result is always a morale boost, though the Japanese race only confirmed my feelings. I'm increasingly convinced as to the direction we need to take to make the Ducati competitive on every track”.
But he needs to think about this season, in which Ducati is lying 3rd in the manufacturer's championship with a 36-point advantage over Suzuki.
“Experience tells me that it's hard to judge a bike from the outside - comments Dovi - From what I can see, the Suzuki can brake hard and enter corners easily. Vinales is a race animal but sometimes he struggles with that, a sign that there is some limitation perhaps. What impresses me is the way Maverick can set fast times even when his lines are not perfect”.
Andrea has another Spaniard in his sights though.
“One of my aims is to reach 5th place in the championship, overtaking Dani Pedrosa”, there are 31 points to make up.
Hector Barbera has different goals, riding the factory Ducati GP16 for the second time after Motegi. The Spaniard wants to use the experience gained in Japan to do well in Australia.
“Now I know how the bike and team work and want to make the most of this second chance. I really like the track too - he says - I just need to know the GP16 better, I need to cover more miles, but the potential is there: this is a podium-worthy bike".
He needs to keep calm after the Motegi mistake though.
“The mistake was mine - he admits - My starting position wasn't good and I was too hasty in wanting to catch up. So I attacked Pol Espargarò in the wrong place and crashed. If it weren't for that, I think I could have reached 5th or 6th place".