Andrea Dovizioso’s fast and encouraging start to his Yamaha career has surprised his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal and Japanese factory engineers.
The Italian finished third quickest in only his third appearance on board Yamaha’s new YZR-M1 1000cc machine in Sepang earlier this month to finish ahead of factory duo Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies.
Dovizioso took part in two three-day sessions at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia while less than 100% fit after he broke his right collarbone in a motocross training accident in early January.
But the early pace of the former Repsol Honda rider, who was third in last year’s world championship behind Casey Stoner and Lorenzo, has surprised Tech 3 boss Poncharal.
The Frenchman told MCN: “We all know how high Andrea’s level is but I am still surprised a little with his pace. I know he was third in the world last season but he is not somebody who likes to push for a fast lap time when he doesn’t need to. And after the first time he rode the Yamaha in Valencia he understood he would need quite a bit of time to adapt and switch from the Honda style. To see him already as fastest Yamaha on paper and be right with Jorge after such a small amount of time is really encouraging. Yamaha is also very happy and I don’t think anybody expected him to be that quick so soon because the first Sepang test was almost for nothing because he was in so much pain with the shoulder. I believe he will improve a lot because his feeling is still not 100% with the bike yet and how it should be ridden.”
Poncharal said Dovizioso will also improve once he has struck up a closer understanding with new crew chief Guy Coulon, who worked with Colin Edwards since 2009.
He added: “He also needs time to work with the team as he is still building a relationship with Guy. By the end Guy said he didn’t even need Colin to talk, he could tell what he wanted, but the relationship with Andrea is completely new."
Dovizioso and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow conclude their pre-season preparations in Jerez this week before the new 1000cc era kicks off in Qatar on April 8.
For seven pages of coverage from the Jerez test, see the March 28 issue of Motor Cycle News.