Andrea Dovizioso confirmed the 'good feeling' with his 2016 package on the second day of MotoGP testing in Qatar as he completed his first race simulation of the preseason.
Speaking in Malaysia at the beginning of February, the Italian one-time MotoGP race winner acknowledged he needed some time to adjust his style and bike set-up to the new Michelin tyres.
Yet by Australia, Dovizioso had made strides in his adaption, a feeling that was continued in Qatar as a slightly shorter-than-full race simulation testified.
While he only completed 18 laps on Thursday, as opposed to the full race distance of 22, the Ducati rider averaged a lap time of 1m 56.256s, if you discount his first flying lap, worthy numbers when held alongside those of the 2015 race, in which he narrowly missed out on victory.
Close to a year before, Dovizioso averaged a lap time of 1m 55.906s, just over three tenths of a second faster per lap than his first long stint of the '16 preseason.
“Yes, really good,” was his assessment at the close of the penultimate day of the off-season. “I mean, I'm not so surprised because my feeling after Australia was good, like I explained to everybody. It was just confirmed today.
“It was very important to do the simulation because in the simulation we can understand some things, very special that you cannot adjust in the race. It was very important. I did my fastest lap in the middle of the simulation. I'm really happy about that.”
Dovizioso's fastest time of his run came on the eleventh lap. A 1m 55.856s effort was good enough to place sixth on Thursday, and was 0.361s slower than his fastest lap from the 2015 race, set during a spectacular final-lap battle with Valentino Rossi.
The one area in Dovizioso's test run that was lacking when compared to a year ago was the difference between his fastest and slowest times. Excluding the first lap, there was a variation of just 0.821s in his race times on the GP15's debut in March, 2015, while on Thursday there was a difference of 1.504s between his second – the slowest flying lap (1m 57.360s) – and the eleventh (1m 55.856s) laps.
On Wednesday, he commented that he was finding it difficult to do “a really good time” on a new tyre, as “you don't have a special grip like normal.” This was tempered by the consistency: “if you do a long run – ten laps – the tyre doesn't drop, so this is really good,” he said.
A day later, he continued, “The bike is good. The tyre was very good. The drop was very big but I was able to keep a very good lap time. It's not easy to manage the bike with different electronics. That is something we need to improve but it was very important to do the simulation today to give the best feedback to improve a little bit for tomorrow and for the race.”
Andrea Dovizioso's 17-lap race simulation from Thursday:
1. 1m 57.360
2. 1m 56.486
3. 1m 55.994
4. 1m 56.323
5. 1m 56.216
6. 1m 56.310
7. 1m 56.214
8. 1m 56.218
9. 1m 55.957
10. 1m 55.995
11. 1m 55.856
12. 1m 56.021
13. 1m 56.223
14. 1m 56.357
15. 1m 56.335
16. 1m 56.031
17. 1m 56.468