Andrea Dovizioso test session in Jerez today not only saw the Italian return to the seat of his Ducati GP20 after the four-month stop imposed by Covid, but the first real test to see the condition of the collarbone he injured during a motocross race . Fortunately, the response from this point of view was not at all negative and Dovizioso seemed totally serene during the (virtual) meeting with the journalists.
The issue of the day was another one however and in particular the new Michelin tyre for the 2020 season which continues to represent a real problem for Dovizioso. Andrea does not hide his difficulties regarding this new tyre, and for the moment he is unable to make the most of its potential.
"I still don’t understand everything about the new Michelin tyre. When you are not doing enough laps in a row you cannot evaluate the behaviour well and at the moment, we are not yet fully exploiting the potential of these tyres. I am still happy with how this day went, because I didn't want to approach it as if it were a weekend test session, but rather as a test in which to lap, work calmly and get used to the bike".
The dilemma linked to the new Michelin therefore remains.
"The tyre is the big novelty; it is not just a new compound but a completely different rubber than in the past. I think it has great potential but at the moment I am not happy with how I am interpreting it. I think we still have a lot work to do, even if today's test helped us. In Qatar I think we were ready to fight for the podium, but here the situation immediately proved to be different because the rubber reacted differently to the high temperature. I think it will affect the rest of the season a lot. We need to learn how to interpret it as soon as possible. "
Do you currently see yourself playing catch-up to the fastest guys?
"We are not adapting easily to this tyre; we are not yet controlling it as we should. It will be a catch-up, but it is difficult to understand how the others are doing. The work changes a lot between morning and afternoon. Today it was 58 degrees on the asphalt, something never seen even in Sepang. As long as you do 6 consecutive laps it's one thing, doing 25 will be different. Today everyone was fast, but in the race, you need something else and we will have to stay focused on other things. We know we are not in shape; I don't feel like I can push in a certain way, but I feel I have room to improve. A day like today allows you to learn a lot, 90 consecutive minutes on the track is a lot. Maybe we won't take the perfect road, we won't solve everything, but in my opinion, we will make a big step forward. Fortunately, here in Jerez we have a lot of data to work on, so I'm sure that from here to Friday we will be able to improve the bike a lot. The sensations are not bad, but at the moment the problem is to exploit the tyre and we are not doing that. I am sure that if we find the way quickly, we will be able to make a lot of progress. "
How is the work on the motorcycle going? Is the GP20 a clear step forward compared to the GP19?
"The bikes of 2019 and 2020 are really similar, no major changes have been made. The different thing is the rubber, which makes so much difference as to make one perceive nothing else. Then also the temperatures are really high, it has been 4 months since we did some laps, we haven’t had a single race on these tyres. Too many different aspects to be able to reach a conclusion and have a clear idea of the situation".
Aprilia and KTM have come really close. Do you think it's also about the tyres?
"In my opinion, Aprilia and KTM have worked well on the bike, the new tyre does not help or penalize them. We will all be close, but even in 2019 we were close from mid-season onwards. The only one who went faster was Marquez, who won a lot of races, albeit some on the last lap. I think it is the level of the championship that’s really high, with bikes that have different characteristics and yet they are all competitive. Even the riders are strong, talented. During the tests at the end of the three days the last one is three seconds down, so maybe you can find yourself 18th at seven tenths. Then of course the race is something else, but this is the situation. For my taste, we are all too close. "
At least the shoulder seems to be one less concern, right?
"We have all worked really well with regards to my injury. They have all been great, things are going well and I have no strange pains, which would have been a bad sign. A MotoGP bike is rigid, powerful and even when you are in good shape, it is always a great test bench. Instead I felt good. Every operation is different because you always break the bones differently. For example, I had already fractured my collarbone and the other time it was much worse. Fortunately, Fabrizio Borra was with me at the motocross race and this helped me to find myself a little more ready immediately after the accident. This let me have the operation immediately, saving time and not keeping my shoulder still. Everything was perfect, the screws used are small, they are not a big problem. The people who sorted this thing out know each other well and know me very well, so this allowed me to go back to training immediately without losing muscle mass or tone. I have a small plate on the bone, but it's not a big problem, I had the stitches removed on Friday and I immediately tried the go karts and everything went well. Today I had the final confirmation, the work was perfect and I will have no problems in the race. "
What is it like for a rider to experience this different paddock?
"It is strange to see the paddock in this way. There are few people, it seems as if we are at the tests and not at a race weekend. Today it is true that it was a test, but it will be strange on Friday to arrive and not find anyone in the stands The positive aspect is that we riders can do whatever we want, go around the paddock because there is no crowd. This is unusual and I must say that it is also beautiful. Usually you are holed up in your office, instead now there are is so much freedom".
Quartararo will remain stationary for 20 minutes on Friday during FP1. Do you think the penalty is the right one?
"I don’t think Quartararo will suffer any consequences as a result of that 20-minute stop. In my opinion, the advantage of something like this, of what he is accused of, is equal to 0, so giving him a penalty is not the best thing. But if there is a regulation, it is also right to enforce it. I don't know the details; I don't know why his bike was irregular. It is also true that we riders cannot get on a MotoGP bike to train and anyone who wants to train must find bikes. as competitive as possible to get closer to MotoGP and any bike is light years away from them. Not so much for the lap time, but for its characteristics ".