Andrea Dovizioso will have another Italian alongside him in the garage this weekend. Yes, because Ducati has decided to bring Michele Pirro to Sepang. The test rider will be ready to stand in for Jorge Lorenzo, if the Majorcan is unable to complete the weekend. In recent days, Pirro has been on track with the GP19 at Valencia.
Dovizioso, when asked about the new bike, commented that "it seems to be going well", but said no more than that on the subject.
His focus is on the upcoming race: “The sensations at Phillip Island were better than in 2017. in this second part of the championship we've been able to improve, but it's not yet enough. The fact remains that we weren't able to fight for the win in Australia and so we need a step forward my riding position and style”.
The Italian scored his first ever MotoGP podium at Sepang, ten years ago: “That was a memorable weekend, I still remember the battle with Nicky, all the way to the last corner, a great feeling. I still think that this track suits my characteristics, but I've not reaped what I've sown”.
He touches on Ducati's decision to opt for Petrucci over Bautista next season: “If I think about 2018 I think about Marc and the other riders. there is already a rider under contract and so I understand the need to talk about it”.
Sepang remains a special track for the red bike: “We've scored two great wins in recent years, but conditions will be different to how they were in testing. In the afternoon it will rain, but that will be useful to understand certain details. The favourites? I expect the usual fight, with Marc especially. I'm sure he'll be strong and I'd say the Yamahas and Suzukis too. Maverick will be feeling confident after his Phillip Island resukt, while Valentino really needs a result, that would be real motivation”.
His final words regard Lorenzo's return: “Jorge will struggle at first, I don't know his exact situation but I think he can improve session after session. I don't think he'll be focusing on a result, instead riding to rebuild his confidence”.