Andrea Dovizioso is confident he will be on the pace in 2010 after admitting his sixth place finish at the end of his first season with Repsol Honda was not the result he was hoping for.
The Italian made headlines during his maiden season in the top flight, the 250cc graduate taking minnows JiR Scot Honda to fifth position in the final standings, ahead of factory Honda rider Nicky Hayden.
That performance earned him the chance to graduate to the Repsol team in place of Hayden this season, but while Dovizioso was a consistent top five performer in 2009, he was rarely able to get on terms with the 'big four' of Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner.
Confessing that he was unable to get fully comfortable on the RC212V, Dovizioso nonetheless believes he has given himself a good platform on which to progress.
“Obviously, this year's results have not been what everybody expected, starting with me. I didn't feel comfortable enough with the bike to battle with the front pack, and the problem is that we can't make any significant changes to the bike during the season, so Honda focused on preparing next year's bike.
“Unfortunately, I couldn't up my speed during the year and sixth place in the championship is nowhere near my dream. It has been an important year for me, to learn with the future in mind, and I know that Honda is going to work hard. I'm sure that next year, although we have to make up lost ground, all of us will increase our performance.”
Dovizioso did enjoy his moments though, most notably his dramatic maiden victory in the wet at Donington Park, and while it proved to be his only podium finish of the year, the former 125cc champion managed to finish inside the top five a further eight times.
Nonetheless, he is aware that both he and the Honda team need to make strides to get on terms with Yamaha and Ducati next season.
I feel optimistic, and of course I think that it'll be better than, for example, our last race in Valencia, but we have a lot of work ahead of us and lots of changes to make before the season starts, so we'll have to wait. But I'm sure that the direction we have taken over these three is days is the right direction.
[The lack of testing is] really bad for us, because for a factory with so much potential to work and our need to improve as a whole, it doesn't allow us to explore all of our possibilities. However, that's how it is and we adapt our way of working to it.”