Not even a botched finish to the day could dampen Andrea Dovizioso’s mood at the end of MotoGP testing at Sepang on Monday, after the Italian confirmed his positive first impressions of Ducati’s GP18.

As the day’s action drew to a close, Dovizioso was unable to carry out his full testing programme. Nor did he have the chance to fit a new tyre to post a ‘headline’ lap time, due to a number of minor issues. Not that it mattered.

The early and mid afternoon had already provided ample opportunity to test and compare the new Ducati with last year’s machine, with the 31-year old finding the GP18’s considerably revamped chassis to be much improved in corner entry, and other points on the Sepang circuit.

The fact his quickest time of the day arrived during the hottest part of the afternoon, however, came as a pleasant surprise. “If you are fast when there is 50 degrees on the ground it means your bike works quite well,” he concluded.

“Really good about my feeling – even better than yesterday, and we did another comparison with the old bike and the new bike,” said Dovizioso, twice a MotoGP race winner in Malaysia and eighth fastest on Monday.

“We confirmed some positive things. We understood more about the small details, positive and negative, so I’m really, really happy about that. I did the lap time in the hottest moment, so I’m really happy about that.

“Unfortunately, in the last one hour and a half in our plan there were two new parts to test and make the tyre at the end, because the conditions were really good at the end of the day.

“But we had some problems. I couldn’t start at the right time and we couldn’t test the material and we couldn’t test the tyre. So we lost a bit of time in the afternoon but overall the feeling was really, really good today.”

Pressed on the specifics of the new machine, Dovizioso added, “Like yesterday, the entry is really a lot better. The base of the 2017 bike works really well here already. Also with the ’17 I did a good lap time. But I have a better feeling with the ’18 in some parts of the track.

“Like I said yesterday, I’m a little bit surprised and happy to feel that. But we didn’t have a lot of time on the new bike so we don’t know if there is a margin, how much, where the margin is…

“So I hope to find a good condition tomorrow because we need that time to work on the details. This track is always working in the right way then you can understand a lot of things. I hope to work in a good condition.”

So has he sacrificed speed in other parts of the corner due to the improvements on corner entry? “No, the entry, everything is better,” he said. “The exit still is not clear 100 percent. We’re working on that.”

Such is Ducati’s level at Sepang, Dovizioso feels a race simulation is not necessary on Tuesday. “In the first test it’s not so important to have the 20 laps on your body and it’s too early,” he said.

“You stop more than two months and that is not the key. About 20 laps, the consumption, the condition – our situation, this track is already good from 2017 so this is not one of the most important things to fix.”

 

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