Italian Andrea Iannone doubts he will be able to renew his rivalry with fellow MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez in the 2013 world championship.
Iannone and Marquez had some memorable battles in the Moto2 class in 2011 and 2012, but both are preparing for very different challenges in their first MotoGP season.
Iannone is part of Ducati’s bid to bounce back from a disastrous two-year spell with compatriot Valentino Rossi and he will ride a GP13 Desmosedici for the Pramac Racing Team.
Iannone though has modest expectations for 2013 while Ducati seeks to cut the gap in performance to Honda and Yamaha.
Reigning Moto2 world champion Marquez though is expected to be a podium contender right from the start of the season, which gets underway at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on April 7.
Marquez is desperately trying to play down expectations, though he is expected to shine on the Repsol Honda RC213V alongside fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa.
Iannone told MCN: “I think Marc is going to be very fast. He has the official HRC bike and that is a very good opportunity for him. But I can’t think so much about battling with him at the moment. I just think about coming better with the Ducati.
"There is a big motivation for me and if I am ready and the bike is ready I want to battle with Marc. The Ducati bike is not so bad but the Honda is a step higher and it is a good bike.”
Iannone and Marquez will resume their preparations for the 2013 season with a three-day test at the Sepang track in Malaysia, which starts on February 5 (Tuesday).
MCN will be trackside in Sepang bringing you all the latest news and views via www.motorcyclenews.com and the February 13 issue of MCN.