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MotoGP Interview - Andrea Dovizioso: EXCLUSIVE

“If you don't win a race it looks like you are not one of [the top riders] but this is not the reality. But for a lot of people in this world it's like this” – Andrea Dovizoso
Known as one of the MotoGP late braking specialists, Andrea Dovizioso has honed his effecting riding style to claim two premier class wins and a further 33 podiums during a spell in the premier class that has lasted just over nine years.

In conjunction with members of Brembo staff, Dovizioso sat down with at Jerez to discuss the intricacies of braking on a 270bhp MotoGP machine, the evolution of stopping power in recent years, as well as his thoughts on recent happenings with Ducati.
Cal Crutchlow told us recently the Ducati was the best braking bike he had ever ridden. That was obviously in 2014 but does it still retain those characteristics?

Andrea Dovizioso:
The best braking bike? Yes. At that time, that bike was really, really good for braking. But how it was made, it was really good for braking but not good for turning. So we worked a lot and we improved a lot the turning but we lost a bit of the braking stability.
So how have you had to evolve your riding style since you joined Ducati?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Well, a lot about the line on the track because when you have a limit like turning you have to try to adapt to do the corner as fast as you can. But if the bike doesn't turn you can't brake, go wide and come back very quick. So you have to cut the corner. You have to enter early. And unfortunately you can't complete the corner in a perfect way. We have a really good acceleration but this is the best compromise for us.
Has the performance of braking on MotoGP bikes evolved a lot since you joined the class in 2008?

Andrea Dovizioso:
A lot. A lot. Also because the bikes are developing every year and it changes a lot every year. I don't remember exactly, but three years ago the brake become on the limit because the bike improved a lot so we were able to brake harder and harder. Also because we weren't using anymore the clutch. All the electronics system worked much better than in the past. We were able to use more of the potential of the bike. So the braking was going over the limit and they [Brembo] were really good to develop very quick. During the test normally you don't have any problem but during the race you can find a big problem. They created a lot of new things with the callipers. They increased the size of the disc. They increased the rotor. A few things, and now nobody has any issues. We just have to use the best for every bike and each bike needs different things. But nobody is going over the limit in this moment.
Motegi used to be a circuit where we saw the brakes pushed to the limit. Even at a track as demanding as that, you don't encounter any issues?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Not any more. Everything is very good.
Speaking generally, how does your method of braking differ when you are on a MotoGP bike and a road bike?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Well, we are using a prototype bike. This means you are able to put more intensity in everything you do. Acceleration, the middle of the corner, but especially braking. And the Brembo carbon brakes make a big effect about that. But for sure, the intensity that you are able to put into the bike is much more than with other bikes.
Do you have to train your mind to recognise braking with this intensity is possible?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Yeah, but normally you're doing it step-by-step. Every category is one step up. In 250 and then to MotoGP. But yes, every time it is something more, more, more and more but the step you make is just a step. So it's just about learning. One of the biggest changes from 250 to MotoGP was the carbon brakes because the potential of the carbon brakes is really high. Especially the feeling you have with the carbon is completely different. At the beginning it wasn't very easy but it was just a case of knowing things and you need a bit of time to manage it.
You have to bring a tyre up to temperature before a race. Is there a similar protocol for brakes?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Exactly the same and for us it becomes natural and normal. But for sure it's not normal! The intensity you have to put on the tyres and on the braking to be ready is a lot. You can't make the outlap slow and push immediately. Or you can't slow down too much because all the temperatures will go down for sure.
Is the outlap enough time to bring them up to temperatures?

Andrea Dovizioso:
About the braking it normally depends on which track and which temperatures you have. But normally one or two braking [zones] is enough.
When Michelin first came in to replace Bridgestone as the tyre supplier the characteristics of its front tyre was quite a bit different. Has your use of the brakes changed in the subsequent time?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Yes, sure. We have to brake in a completely different way. The line changed. The braking point changed. How much you brake in the middle of the corner is completely different.
I remember you said last year with Bridgestone your line was a 'V' into a corner whereas with Michelin you can't do this so much.

Andrea Dovizioso:
Exactly. You can't put the same pressure on Michelin like you could on the Bridgestone. So you have to brake smoothly and in the middle of the corner you have to be careful to brake really hard. All the movement you created, when you put the pressure or when you take off the pressure, you have to be very, very smooth with Michelin.
You were using Bridgestone tyres from 2009 to '15. Is understanding these tyres and how to extract the most from them still a process?

Andrea Dovizioso:
No, no, no. It takes, I don't know, two or three months.
You used carbon discs in the wet conditions this morning [Friday at Jerez]. Was that the first time you have done that?

Andrea Dovizioso:
No. The first time was in Argentina this year. I tried it two times in good conditions to try because it wasn't very cold and the grip in Argentina and here was really good. So it helped but I didn't have any problem. This is really good also for the mechanics because of the time you have to change the brakes. If you always use the same brake it is much easier and then you have the same feedback on the lever. I don't know if we are able to use them [in the wet] everywhere in every temperature. Maybe yes. I hope so.
Bradley Smith was one rider to use carbon discs in the wet in the race in Sepang last year.

Andrea Dovizioso:
Marc [Marquez] also.
He said the high temperatures in Malaysia was a big factor in his decision.

Andrea Dovizioso:
For sure this helps.
Do you have to be more sensitive with the lever when using carbon discs in the rain?

Andrea Dovizioso:
No, but like I said, I tried them when I had a good grip on the asphalt and it wasn't very cold. That helped to use the carbon brakes. I didn't know if I would have had a problem but from the feedback and the feeling I have now, I can say no.
Now just a few general questions. The races in Argentina and Austin didn't go as planned but you were second in Qatar, and fought for the win until the end. Looking back, was the race in Qatar one of your best?

Andrea Dovizioso:
In the way we managed because, with the team, we changed the tyre on the grid, maybe yes. But many times when I make a result some other riders think it is easy to do. So from outside it doesn't look like I did a really special result. But from me and when I'm inside that [experience] I can say that it was one of my best, for sure.
At Valencia last year Gigi Dall'Igna said improving the turning of the bike was his main focus over the winter. Is it a surprise that this is still the 2017 bike's big weakness?

Andrea Dovizioso:
I'm not surprised.

Andrea Dovizioso:
I'm not surprised [laughs].
So is it something fundamental with the bike's design?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Where it comes from, nobody knows. So now I think we are focussed on trying to understand it.
Like your team-mate, you have made the transition from Yamaha to Ducati. The current Ducati was a very different bike to what you rode in 2013, but can you talk about the main changes you needed to make to adapt?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Well, my team was a satellite team and it was a completely different situation. That year in Yamaha I did a really good year. I finished fourth with, I think, six podiums. I did a really good season. Also, because it was the first time I used the Yamaha and I didn't develop and I couldn't develop anything. The bike was the same from the beginning to the end. So it was a completely different situation to Jorge. And I found a completely different bike in my first year in Ducati compared to now. Now, I think this is the best Ducati I ever rode. For sure the base is really good. It's not good enough to fight for the championship. But it's much better than in 2013.
In theory, your riding style is very different to Jorge's. Is one of the issues with this bike that Ducati has to accommodate two very different styles?

Andrea Dovizioso:
No, it isn't an issue because the limit we have is still too big and the limit comes out too early. For both riders, we have the same limit. It's too big so it doesn't matter the riding style you have. The limit is too early so you can't make a big change on the bike to have an effect on that. So you can use the bike with a different set-up but the limit is always there. So that is the reason why we can't be really fast.
Can you specify what you mean when you say the limit is early?

Andrea Dovizioso:
It starts when I release the braking and it continues. Also when I touch the throttle it continues. Every time it's like this.
How have things changed within Ducati since you first joined the team?

Andrea Dovizioso:
At that time that bike was very, very bad. I mean, we had a lot of problems and the limit was unbelievable. I had never ridden a bike like this. It was a real disaster. With the arrival of Gigi he put a lot of things in the right way so the bike became normal – with some limits, but it became normal. From [finishing] 40 seconds [behind] we arrived to win a race or to fight for the podium.
And you noticed a big change internally?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Yeah. The first and the biggest problem at that time was inside Ducati, not the bike. The bike was a consequence. The problem was the disaster that was within Ducati. [There were] A lot of engineers and there wasn't the right situation inside to work on the bike. When Gigi arrived everybody felt that he was the boss and everyone followed his ideas. Everything went in the right way, in a normal way.
Did the communication improve?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Yeah. A lot things.
Finally, after winning the race at Sepang last year you took a photo in front of the assembled journalists at the press conference which almost mockingly said, 'This is for you'. What did you mean by this?

Andrea Dovizioso:
Because that race was a strong emotion. It was really nice. There was nice fighting. I managed the race and everything was really good. But the reality was it was more important for the people in this world than me to understand I am one of the top riders. If you don't win a race it looks like you are not one of them but this is not the reality. But for a lot of people in this world it's like this.

By Neil Morrison

Related Pictures

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Dovizioso, Qatar MotoGP 2017
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Dovizioso, Crutchlow Dutch MotoGP 2017

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May 18, 2017 9:52 AM

@Codger You said " he does not denigrate other riders" I would be very interested to know what you would call the interview at the end of the PI race in 2015 about MM do you think slander might be a better word.


May 17, 2017 7:36 AM

completely a different world hearing from Dovi, unlike his old teammate he just answers what is what and nothing more. Last few question and answers were pure crackers. He shed lights on why Ducati remained a mystery to solve for even good crew and rider back in the days, it was all about the wrong men within organisation which the new boss cleared up, heard something similar from Gigi when he came first into Ducati.

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