An awkward tumble from an innocent looking front-end fall left Andrea Dovizioso with a stiff neck for the remainder of day two at the Sepang MotoGP test.

The factory Ducati star lost the front of his Desmosedici at Turn 6 and went on to finish the day just 15th on the timesheets, 0.770s behind the Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo.

"I didn’t push 100% in that moment. I just opened the throttle at maximum angle at turn six and I lost the front," he said. "It was a really small and easy crash but unfortunately I went into gravel and it wasn’t flat.

"I couldn’t breathe [afterwards] and the problem is always with my neck. I hit [my head] on top and now it's really stiff. I hope it will not become worse overnight because that’s always my characteristic."

Dovi wasn't sure if he had been caught out by a shift in balance caused by the new spec Michelin rear tyre or had committed a riding error, but the added rear grip is giving the Italian a 'headache' one way or another.

"It was a bit strange for me to lose the front like this. I don’t know if it was the set-up or if I didn’t something really bad. I have to check the data [to see] if I opened the throttle too early or had one or two degrees more of lean angle. With Michelin sometimes that’s enough."

"The grip is there but the way the tyre works is a bit strange compared to the previous one," he said of the new rear. "About the pace I’m quite fast but I’m not comfortable. So when I have to try to do the lap time, the lap time doesn’t come. I think we have to improve the set-up and the way I have to ride before thinking about the lap time.

"You have more grip on the rear so it’s always pushing the front. So the balance is a bit different. And with the electronics. At maximum angle you can lose the grip so quick and easy. But in the traction area you have a lot of grip.

"It’s difficult to manage those two points, also because you have to turn. The transition from the maximum angle to the traction area is not easy."

Dovizioso said he would 'not be surprised' if the characteristics of the new rear tyre were one of the reasons why Yamaha and Suzuki are looking so strong this week. The triple MotoGP title runner-up emphasised he won't be drawing any firm conclusions until the opening race, but admitted to being 'worried'.

"From what I feel from the tyre, I think it can help a bit more the bikes which can make a bit more speed in the middle of the corners. But this is my feeling. I’m not sure about that. Still I didn’t ride with them. And still I think there is a lot of work to do for everybody so I don’t know how much margin there is from us and from the competitors.

"But I’m not that surprised because in the way they have to ride, maybe it works a bit better. But only the race can show this. Like always at the test, everybody is fast, many people have the pace to fight on the podium. But this is not the reality.

"I think we have to be focussed and improve the feeling. That is our goal apart from the position or the fastest lap, because everyone is fast, especially as the grip is really good. It didn’t rain. The rubber is there and it’s a bit easier to be fast."

As Dovizioso's explained, predicting race performance from a test can be deceptive. But in terms of day two at Sepang, Monster Yamaha's Maverick Vinales later confirmed: "I made the best rhythm when it was nearly 2pm, which is always really hot. That's important. From morning to afternoon, the bike is very similar, and also the grip. We tried the medium tyre a lot, which was also the race tyre from last year and tomorrow we are going to try to use the soft on a longer run."

Dovizioso's team-mate Danilo Petrucci, 13th on the timesheets, also picked out the inline four-cylinder machines as the bikes to beat at present.

"For sure there are some riders about to ride in '59.5 with used tyres. We are 2-3-4 tenths slower. It's a big gap because if we look at the pace there are many riders within one-second. So finding that three tenths every lap is quite a big thing," he said.

"I saw that Vinales was very, very quick. Also Rins and Mir are very, very fast. Quartararo and Morbidelli. And also Rossi is good. I think all the Yamahas and Suzukis. And then as always Marc.

"Then I think regarding the pace we are more or less in that position, but I've already said a lot of riders…!"

But it's over one fast lap that Petrucci is struggling most.

"Sincerely the classification is maybe our weakest point at the moment because we didn't understand how to use the soft tyre. We have been better with the medium. I need to understand how to use the soft in one single lap."

But while the factory team riders struggled over a single flying lap, Pramac's Jack Miller led the timesheets for most of the day and finished a close second to Quartararo.

"It's a big change and the tyre is better, but it's just the way it works it's quite different from other Michelin tyres we have used so setting the bike around that tyre is going to be the key for the first races," Miller said. "It's about getting the balance right.

"We used the tyres from yesterday afternoon when the rain came, so we did not have too many laps on them. We let them run their course but once we put the new tyres in the lap times sort of came so we can’t complain too much.

"The bike is working relatively good, just a few little things we need to fix, but the boys are working hard and we are ticking things off the list."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...