24 February 2015
Sepang MotoGP Test: New Ducati ‘already better than GP14.3’
“The engineers did an amazing job, because we start directly with a better bike and we improved a lot the turning" - Andrea Dovizioso.
A glowing first impression of the new Ducati GP15 was backed up by big time gains for factory team-mates Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone during day two of the Sepang MotoGP test.
Dovizioso had finished the first day with his quickest time set on the previous GP14.3, but it was the GP15's turning ability that left the Italian smiling. Dogged by understeer for years, Dovizioso spoke of an instant change on the new Gigi Dall'Igna machine, despite barely scratching the surface in terms of set-up.
That set-up work duly continued on day two, when Dovizioso slashed his best GP15 lap time from a 2m 1.692s on Monday (+1.2s) to 2m 0.250s (+0.406s) propelling him to fourth on the timesheets, directly behind an even faster lap by Iannone.
Dovizioso had set a Ducati record of 1m 59.874s with the GP14.3 earlier this month. But that was with better track conditions and the Italian is adamant that the GP15 is already faster - after just a day and half on track.
“Yeah it is already quicker and I'm really happy about that,” Dovizioso said at Sepang on Tuesday evening. “The engineers did an amazing job, because we start directly with a better bike [than last year] and we improved a lot the turning. I'm so happy.
“We can't know how much margin we have [to improve] but it is nice to be in Sepang 2, a few tenths behind the competitors and to have the possibility to improve maybe a lot this bike.”
Tuesday had also confirmed that the improvement in turning is real, Dovi describing it as: “Normal! Everywhere. With the throttle, without throttle... Now I can say the bike enters and turns in a normal way. About that I am really happy and we are quite ok.”
But there is one area where the GP15 is currently weaker than its predecessor.
“We still don't understand why we can't stop the bike in the last part of braking. So you arrive always too fast in the middle of the corner, which creates a problem. We are working on that.”
Dovizioso added: “We tried many set-ups but still we don't yet understand everything about this bike after just one day and a half. We have to stay calm.
“Tomorrow morning I believe everybody will try for a fast lap time. Then we can understand our speed. But I think we are still not as fast as the fastest riders, because we can't push in the middle of the corner. So I don't feel strong in every area yet.”
Iannone made even greater lap time progress on day two, from a 2m 2.142s with the GP15 on Monday to a 2m 0.098s on Tuesday. Iannone was just 0.254s behind Honda's reigning world champion Marc Marquez and 0.196s from Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo.
“For sure today was a great day," he said. "This morning, when we began to lap, I managed to immediately find a better feeling with the GP15 and I am happy that, day after day, doing more and more kilometres with this bike, I can get more feeling. In addition, we managed to improve the bike's set-up and we were pretty quick.
"Rather than the time attack I did in the afternoon, I'm happier with the work we carried out throughout the day, because it allowed me to do my time with the hard tyre. The team is working really well, and the bike is improving day after day. It's improved a lot in the changes in direction and in its nimbleness, it's quicker between the corners and these are all positive aspects.”
Iannone and Dovizioso had been third (+0.521s) and seventh (+1.007s) respectively using the GP14.3 at the opening test
Still competing with the Open class concessions, Ducati has the choice of soft or medium (asymmetric) rear tyre compounds at Sepang, instead of the two medium options (asymmetric or symmetric) on offer to Honda and Yamaha.
Aprilia and Suzuki have the same tyre allocation as Ducati, while front tyre choice is medium or hard for all riders.
Testing continues on Wednesday.
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