With just one race as a factory Honda rider under his belt, Andrea Dovizioso now faces his biggest weekend of the season - the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
With team-mate Dani Pedrosa still recovering from surgery, Dovizioso will be expected to lead the RCV challenge at Honda's home race, on Honda's own track and in the 50th Anniversary of Honda's first entry into the grand prix racing.
Dovizioso qualified an impressive fourth for the Qatar season opener, and ran as high as third in the race, before 'issues' with the performance of his RCV saw him drop back to fifth at the flag.
“The Grand Prix of Japan is the home race for Honda and HRC so I'd really like to get a good result there,” said the 23-year-old Italian. “I have always liked this track, there are many hard braking and many acceleration zones and I think that, with the characteristics of our bike, we can have a good race.”
The #4 was almost 30 seconds behind race winner Casey Stoner (Ducati) at Losail, and over ten seconds from the podium, but expects to close the gap this weekend.
“We're going to Japan having learned a lot at the first race in Qatar. During that race some new issues arose and we've now had the time to analyze them and work a few things out, so I think we can expect to do even better at Motegi,” he said.
“I like the atmosphere at Motegi on Sunday - there are many Japanese fans supporting the Honda riders so I always look forward to it. This year Honda celebrates its 50th anniversary of involvement in the world championship and it's a real honour for me to be racing for the factory Honda team,” he concluded.
Dovizioso finished ninth for JiR Team Scot in last September's 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.