Just one more week before the production-derived bikes will take to the Phillip Island track for the final test before the season opener. Two last days in which to ready their weapons and prepare for the initial attack. Previous sessions at Jerez and Portimao have only underlined the superiority of Johnny Rea's Kawasaki, but also the Yamahas of van der Mark and Lowes, keen to play a leading role this year. Andrea Dosoli is therefore feeling confident ahead of this new racing season.
Dosoli, let's start with the recent tests. The Yamaha is no longer a surprise.
“The recent results are fruit of a long process, which has seen us demonstrate continuous growth in terms of performance – starts the Project Manager – We're excited, because both Alex and Michael proved to be competitive at both tracks”.
Many sustain that the competitiveness of the R1 is down to the new regulation. How true is this?
“I don't think it is the case – underlines Dosoli – it's not the regulation change that allows us to be faster, but rather the fact that we've worked on various aspects in the second half of last year's championship. We now have the experience we need and the aim is to fight for the podium every weekend”.
How exactly has the R1 grown?
“Working on the details has been crucial, we've seen positive results in terms of the chassis and now we want to confirm this work in Australia. Together with the team, we've mapped out a path to follow”.
You mention Australia. As we well know, Phillip Island is an odd track, a good place to try and win perhaps?
“The track is unique and will mean the races are wide open. In recent years, we've nearly always seen a real battle for the win. We need to be constant and ready to make the most of any opportunity”.
What do you think of the new regulation? It's raised a fair few doubts.
“I see it as positive for the championship and it also confirms Dorna and FIM's commitment to making the series more exciting. I except to see less of a gap between the various manufacturers this season”.
The market is also an issue in 2018, in that both Lowes and van der Mark's contracts will be up for renewal.
“It's true, Yamaha is aiming, as always, for continuity, so we'd like to continue with these two riders”.
There was a lot of talk about van der Mark last season. Do you think he's ready for MotoGP?
“Michael is a talented guy who focuses on every detail in his work, as few others do. Personally I think it's only right to let him focus on Superbike, seeing as that's his priority”.
In the second half of 2017, we saw the Yamaha grow in Superbike, while the M1 struggled in MotoGP. Did this strike you at all?
“I'm not involved in the MotoGP side of things, so I don't think it would be right for me to judge. We saw Vinales and Rossi win races, and I'm sure that the 2018 M1 will be competitive”.
Back to Superbike. It is often said that the championship needs a real personality to boost its appeal. Do you agree?
“I see it differently. We have various personalities in the paddock, the problem is that no-one hears about them. It would be interesting to reveal more about our riders, to describe them. Take Lucas Mahias for example, a guy who had never had the opportunity to complete a full season and then, on his first try, he won the SuperSport title”.
One last question. We saw that Canepa was very fast at Jerez. When will we see him race?
“We're still working it out, we have a couple of ideas like Donington and Magny-Cours”