The season start has only been an encouraging one. Yes, because Alex Lowes sent a very clear message at Phillip Island: his R1 seems to have everything it needs to be able to aim for the podium. Just a few tenths of a second kept this from coming to fruition in Australia, but the Brit will try again at Buri Ram. The R1 rider is developing and Andrea Dosoli is well aware of this. Yet Yamaha seems to have no intention of settling for the podium, as confirmed by its Project Manager.
Dosoli, let's rewind for a little. In Australia Yamaha proved to be a surprise. Did you expect to be up there?
“We closed 2016 on the podium and so we wanted to start from there. At Phillip Island we knew we could fight for the front positions. Times are always so close at that track, which made for a great battle. There's a little disappointment of course, but on the other hand we're pleased because we're on the right track”.
What do you still need?
“A little more acceleration on corner exit (he smiles). I think that the bike has grown a lot, particularly in terms of the chassis, the electronics and the engine. Strengthening the team with two engineers has proved to be the right choice”.
Could Buri Ram be the right track?
“This track doesn't particularly suit the characteristics of the R1, the 2016 results demonstrate this. We know we'll have our work cut out, but at the same time I'm sure we'll be more competitive than we were one year ago”.
So do we need to wait for Aragon?
“In Europe we'll race at more favourable tracks, the podium is definitely not one of those things to be rushed”.
But it remains a priority this season?
“It's an aim of course, but we cannot only focus on this. Aside from the podium, we need to get closer to Ducati and Kawasaki, which are the bikes of reference in this championship. Our work sees us looking to the best”.
Right now Lowes seems to be the right to focus on. Is this the case?
“Alex is in great shape right now. The crashes and injuries he's suffered in the past have seen him mature, but above all he's found that confidence he was missing. He works to best prepare for the race, without focusing at all costs on setting a fast lap on Friday or Saturday. Over the winter he's changed his work method”.
van der Mark is suffering. Does he need a little time to adapt?
“I think his approach to the R1 is the right one, and he shows incredible concentration in his work. Going from Honda to Yamaha is a big step, which requires significant mental effort. I'm sure that we'll be seeing his qualities shine through very soon”.
At Phillip Island we couldn't ignore what went on between Lowes and Melandri. What's your view?
“The opening race always has a special flavour, there are so many expectations and so there's more adrenaline than usual . To be honest, I saw nothing strange, in the past Alex has shown to be an aggressive rider, but I think he's correct”.