Just over a week after rider Andrea Dovizioso came within 37 points of winning the 2017 MotoGP championship, Ducati – like Aprilia, Suzuki, KTM and Honda’s satellite teams - were present at a three-day private test at Jerez to further preparations for the following campaign.

It was in an autumnal Andalusia where Crash.net spoke to factory team co-ordinator Davide Tardozzi about a variety of issues, including 2017’s turning point, the reasons behind Dovizioso’s recent success, and what Jorge Lorenzo needs to frequently challenge the class’ leading names in ’18.

Crash.net:
How do you look back on the 2017 season?

Davide Tardozzi:
We must be proud about what we did. We must be happy about the results and what our riders did. In the end, Dovi made an amazing championship while Jorge was struggling a bit. He was struggling but he showed at the end of the season that he can be competitive and that next year he can be one of the contenders. In the end, our current line from four years ago when Gigi [Dall’Igna – factory technical chief] stepped into Ducati, I think it’s always growing. Next year will be the most difficult one because we must show, we must be there every race with both riders. It will be the confirmation that we are there, that it is not only Yamaha and Honda – it is Ducati too. We’ll see. It will be tough because we still don’t have the completely new bike but we tested some parts today that worked quite good; better [than before]. We still don’t have the new bike and we must see what it’s going to be in Sepang. Even if in Sepang we are not there immediately, we still have nine days of testing before the first race. What is important is the Sunday in Qatar.

Crash.net:
What do you think was the biggest factor behind Dovizioso’s success this year?

Davide Tardozzi:
I think that many things made him think he can be not only fast, but also a winner. For sure, that started from the winning of Sepang last year [2016], while he found some people during the winter that talked with him in a different way. He changed his mental attitude. We have to say that Dovi has always been fast. He was never a serial winner, but he was always a top guy. He made the next mental step, a step in the brain, and that made him a winner.

Crash.net:
Do you think it was good for Dovizioso to have a multiple champion like Lorenzo come into the team? It was like a confirmation that he could beat the very best on the same equipment.

Davide Tardozzi:
Absolutely, yes. I think that Jorge in a way helped him [Dovizioso] to convince himself that he can be a top rider – not only a fast rider. That’s the difference!

Crash.net:
There has been a lot written about Andrea working with the psychologist and mental trainer Amedeo Maffei. Have you noticed a change in his working methods?

Davide Tardozzi:
No, no, no. This psychological thing happened a few times during the winter. But it never happened during the season. In the end, what helped a lot was the relationship with his chief engineer Alberto Giribuola. His attitude convinced Dovi that he can really be there every race and I guess that this symbiosis brought some positive effect. They work very well together. They know each other. They found the way to work in the proper way and there was never a step on the bike. There are some things that doesn’t belong to two clicks, or belong to one frame; it belongs to personal relationships. I think this year Dovi found a good bike and a good way to work with his race engineer.

Crash.net:
So Dovi’s story shows the importance of stability and continuity in a team?

Davide Tardozzi:
Yes. This helps. For sure technically you must have a good bike, and I guess that we have. It has some weak points that our riders underline to us and Gigi. In the end, what’s important is they found a good balance on the bike and he didn’t change too much the bike during the year and Dovi was comfortable on this.

Crash.net:
In terms of the guy sat in the garage on race day, is the Dovizioso from 2015 a good deal different from the Dovizioso of 2017?

Davide Tardozzi:
No - just I see a light in the eyes. This year he was happy to ride. Before he was not so happy to ride and he was thinking too much about the problems. Now he is thinking about the good things of the bike and he was working on the good things on the bike and not on the weak points. He was thinking, ‘Oh, this is good. Improve this part of the bike and manage the others.’ It’s a different way to work. Many riders work on the problems. You can work on the good matters of the bike. There are bikes like ours that are very good on the brakes. [He would say,] ‘Improve this before solving the problem.’ It’s a different method, a different attitude. It depends from which point you want to see the problems or not see the problems.

Crash.net:
From inside the garage, how much did Jorge change this year?

Davide Tardozzi:
Jorge makes a huge, huge effort to change his riding style, to adapt his riding style to the Ducati. Finally he got some results. He still doesn’t have what he needs to be fast but that is our problem. We need to bring something for him to allow him to be even faster. He adapted himself to the bike but now it’s time that we do something for him. Whenever we do this, he will be amazingly faster.

Crash.net:
In which areas do you need to make this work?

Davide Tardozzi:
Corner speed. We need to let him have the bike in the hands entering the corner and [allowing him to] carry the corner speed as fast as he can.

Crash.net:
Was there one moment in 2017 that stood out? There were many great races for Ducati…

Davide Tardozzi:
We understood very well that Mugello and Barcelona changed our season. We understood and found something after the Barcelona test. We understood that we have something in the end that can be good. In Mugello it was confirmed and in Barcelona it was re-confirmed. From there we have always been competitive. In those two weeks, we understood that we could be there.

Crash.net:
Was that a technical change that you found at the test?

Davide Tardozzi:
It’s a matter of set-up and other things [laughs]! From there Dovi found his balance. Then we changed just small things and he was very happy with what he had. For sure, not always perfect but the perfect bike doesn’t exist!

Crash.net:
One final thing Davide. We saw Ducati management and engineers congratulate the Honda team after the race at Valencia. What is your take on their season?

Davide Tardozzi:
I was surprised that Honda was surprised that we went to congratulate them. I told the guys, ‘Please, go to Honda to congratulate them’. They beat us. They were better than us. Why not do it? I think it’s fair. It’s a competition. It’s not a war. So we must be proud about our season, but we must recognise that they were better. For us it’s absolutely normal. It’s not a strange thing. Honda was good. Honda has a fantastic rider. So we’ll see next year.

Interview by Neil Morrison and Peter McLaren.

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 great interview

Good article Crash, quite insightful