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Dovizioso explains Ducati gains, weakness
12 March 2013
Having left the first Sepang MotoGP test feeling 'every area of the bike' needed improving, new factory Ducati recruit Andrea Dovizioso made a significant step - and confirmed the big unsolved issue - during the second visit.
Over two seconds off the pace meant there was plenty to gain after the early February test, but track conditions were also slower for Sepang II, illustrated by Dani Pedrosa's first test best standing unbeaten.
It was against that backdrop that Dovizioso found 0.627s - and team-mate Nicky Hayden 0.332s - relative to the fastest lap time, promoting the pair to eighth (Dovizioso) and ninth (Hayden) on the final Sepang II timesheet.
“In this moment we don't have the possibility to fight with Hondas and Yamahas at the top, this is the reality. Everybody can see,” said Dovizioso. “But we knew that and it is not a surprise.
“These six days in Malaysia were so good, mainly Sepang II, because we tried many set-ups and gave a lot of feedback for the engineers. I'm really happy about how much we improved with the same bike.”
Dovizioso was still +1.368s from Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, but on the final day he had got to within 1.068s of the top. “The lap time is quite good,” said Dovizioso. “I did my best lap one and a half hours before anyone else. For the track conditions I think it was quite fast.”
Frame components, a new fuel tank - which changed the weight distribution - plus electronic 'strategies' contributed to the progress. However the Desmosedici's main weakness remains its tendency to understeer in the centre of the corners.
“We improved the set-up so that I could brake harder and enter the corner faster,” Dovizioso said. “Still in the middle of the corner we are quite slow, so that is where we need to improve.
“The bike doesnt turn. It wants to go straight. So I can't make higher speed in the middle of the corner because I can't keep the line.”
Pressed further, Dovizioso explained the exact difficulties the understeer causes in terms of lap time.
“Now I have to do a strange line with this bike in the corners. I can't do the line I want. What we need is an improvement of turning, then I can change the line to what I think is the best line to ride faster,” he said.
“This best line is from what Bridgestone request and what I have learnt in the last two years about the tyres. That is what we need to close the gap further. The MotoGP tyres we have today, we have to keep as little time on maximum lean angle as we can.”
Dovizioso also got to try the experimental laboratory bike of test rider Michele Pirro, featuring a new frame. The changes present on that all-black machine didn't seem to help the mid-corner characteristics, but did improve braking and entry another notch.
“I couldn't make a better lap time because the riding position and engine spec was not the same as my bike. But the main thing was to understand if the differences on the lab bike worked or not, and it was positive,” said Dovizioso.
“The last part of braking and entry was better. It helped me to enter the corner easier. A small but positive difference. This is important to keep the direction for the future.”
The GP13 currently has only minor difference relative to last year's GP12, with the introduction of major developments not due until several races into the new season.
With Ducati opting to skip this week's private Austin test, Dovizioso will next be on track for the third and final official test at Jerez from March 23-25.
“I'm really interested to go to Jerez [test] and Qatar [race] because they are completely different tracks and these can give me a clear situation of this bike,” said Dovizioso.
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