Andrea Dovizioso will head for his first MotoGP race as a Yamaha rider feeling 'fast and competitive' - but knows the top four factory riders at the final Jerez test will be hard to catch.
A Honda rider since his full time grand prix debut in the 2002 125cc World Championship, Dovizioso has switched to the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team after HRC reduced its factory Repsol effort back to two bikes for the first 1000cc season.
The Italian suffered a major setback when he broke his collarbone on a motocross bike during the winter, but has been present for all three 2012 tests, which he finished 8th, 3rd and then 7th, at Jerez on Sunday.
“I'm really happy about the work we did today and thanks to my Tech 3 crew because they worked incredibly hard,” said Dovi. “After the stomach illness I had on the first day and the rain yesterday, I really needed to get in as many laps as possible to understand the potential of the Yamaha on a completely different track to Sepang.
“We did some very good work in improving the stability of the bike on the exit of the corner and this is so important at a slower track like Jerez. You can have a lot of sliding and wheelie on the exit but we have improved a lot in this area. I think I could have gone faster but I only used the soft rear tyre in the final 30 minutes, so with more time I'm sure I could have been inside the top six.
“Now I am looking forward to going to Qatar and racing the Yamaha for the first time. I'm convinced we will be fast and competitive but the four at the top of the timesheets are really strong. They are consistently fast, so it will not be easy to stay with them. But I will be giving it my maximum to start the new season in the best possible way."
Casey Stoner (Honda), Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), Dani Pedrosa (Honda) and Ben Spies (Yamaha) filled the top four positions.
Team-mate Cal Crutchlow occupied the fifth place - and top satellite position - Dovizioso feels is within his grasp. The Englishman's best lap was 0.275sec quicker than Dovizioso.