Andrea Dovizioso was visibly buoyant as he continued his adaption to his 2016 package on Friday at Phillip Island and his team's solving of a front-end vibration left him feeling 'really confident' ahead of the upcoming test in Qatar.
While further acclimatising to and working on the base of Ducati's 2016 machine, Dovizioso said the solution which he found on Friday improved his front-end feel mid-corner, an area in which the Michelin tyres work best.
The major issues that held him back in pit lane at Sepang were gone and the one-time MotoGP race winner is now able to tweak the '16 Desmosedici's settings to his liking, while adjusting his notoriously late-braking riding style to suit the rubber beneath him.
This along with his speed on used tyres meant Dovizioso left Australia, where he has struggled significantly in recent years, in a positive frame of mind.
“I'm also happy about today,” said Dovizioso, who posted the eleventh fastest time of the test. “The half day we tested some set-up that was very interesting for us to understand the way. In Sepang we didn't have time to really test. It was the first real first day yesterday [Thursday].
“My feeling with the Michelin also become better. Now we are able to set up the bike and work on the small details to understand the way with the vibration, braking stability, speed in the middle of the corner.
“We understood something important I believe to go faster. We were not so fast but very close to the fastest rider and very consistent. I'm really happy to go home with that feeling because before we arrived here the feeling wasn't like this. This track for me was not the best.
“To go home with this feeling after the test was really important. We have to confirm in Qatar the feeling I had here and make another step. We miss a little bit the speed but if we analyse after Malaysia we were far compared to here.”
Speaking of solving the front-end vibration, Dovizioso continued, “We had a vibration in the middle of the corner. It disturbed me a lot when I tried to do the speed in the middle. How you have to ride the bike with the Michelin is in that way; speed in the middle of the corner. It's not easy. When we speak about vibration when the engineer are scared because there is not an easy solution and we fixed it today. So we're really happy about that.
“We tried different set-up to change the weight on the bike and it helped me to be more consistent and have more speed in the middle of the corner. I was able to do my fast lap time many times and [I was] just two tenths slower with a very used tyre. So I did this morning a lap time with 22 laps [on the tyre] for example. It means we have a margin about the speed.”
A downside to Dovizioso's day was that he found inconsistencies with Michelin's tyres as the same spec rubber offered different levels of grip. With Phillip Island notoriously hard on tyres, the Italian was hopeful these issues were limited to the paddock's brief stint in Australia.
“Unfortunately we had a problem with the tyre,” he said. “Not every tyre had the same grip and this created a problem to work on the bike because when you have different grip, ok the lap time is different, you can have a feeling but you need to confirm with the lap time. So it wasn't the best. We worked with Michelin and I hope for the next test it won't happen again.”
Commenting on the spate of front end crashes that worryingly littered the final day, he opined, “I think it is the characteristic of Michelin. The tyre improved but still, if you try to push in that way, this happens. I saw a few crashes almost straight and go down very quick. It means it looks like the front collapse and you lock the front when you are almost straight. It's the characteristic of the tyre and we have to ride to the characteristic of the tyre.”