MotoGP title contender Andrea Dovizioso is dealing with a “very, very strange” setup problem, as the factory Ducati team tries to get to grips with its new GP20 race bike, and Pramac Ducati finds stronger pace.
The Italian rider has had a reasonable 2020 campaign, finishing third and sixth in the opening rounds, respectively, and now sitting at third in the championship standings while defending-champ Marc Marquez nurses his injury.
However, Dovizioso struggled to hold the pace of the front runners at last weekend’s race in Jerez, losing to race-winner Quartararo by 12 seconds.
According to Dovizioso, he experienced a lack of feeling in the corners.
“Position wise [finishing sixth] is not too bad, if we think to be in Jerez and starting 14th, because it’s very difficult to gain a position when the speed is very similar,” he said after the Andalusia GP.
“I was able to see Valentino in third and the gap stayed the same, more or less, until four laps to the end.
“Something we didn’t expect, is that from the first lap I didn’t have front [feeling] in the middle of the corners. Very, very strange. We don’t know why, if it’s just related to the very hot conditions.
“I was quite good in straight braking and the last part of braking, but when I released the brake I couldn’t carry on the speed and I couldn’t push. Fast corners, slow corners, I couldn’t push.”
Racing conditions at last weekend’s race were extreme, with high temperatures causing overheating problems for many riders including Valentino Rossi, whose rear-tyre grip all but vanished towards the end of the race.
However, Dovizioso believes that his bike’s issue was not related to temperature.
“With the Michelins and in this temperature, when you follow riders it affects you a lot. But it’s the same for many years,” he said.
“And in this condition when the heat is even more, it’s even harder to keep the pressure in the right range. But that’s the same for everybody.
“My problem wasn’t related to temperature I think, because I didn’t follow other riders really. When I overtook Danilo, I was alone. I had a lot of bikes in front but I wasn’t that close to be affected by them.”
Pramac Ducati faster than factory Ducati
During the second round of the 2020 MotoGP season at Jerez, both Pramac Racing riders Bagnaia and Miller qualified higher on the grid, starting from third and seventh, respectively.
Bagnaia’s hopes for his first podium were stopped late in the race due to a mechanical issue, while Australian teammate Miller’s race was ended by a crash at turn nine of lap 11.
Meanwhile, factory riders Dovizioso and Petrucci have expressed concerns with the new Ducati ‘GP20’ motorcycle, but the difference in pace remains unexplained.
“We can’t understand why the new bike doesn’t behave like last year’s,” Petrucci told GPOne.
“Bagnaia manages to enter the corners quickly, I don’t, I can’t stop the bike with the rear and if I put more force in the braking, I only put the front tyre in crisis and I risk crashing, I’m already at the limit.”
Andrea Dovizioso said that he doesn’t want to replicate the Pramac Ducati riders’ style.
“I didn’t want to copy the way they ride, I didn’t want to copy the pace,” Dovizioso said on Sunday.
“At the end, Bagnaia did a really good pace, and the best pace of Ducati today.
“There is a reason; if you check the data – like everybody does for the same bike – it’s like I said before, new [front feeling] problems which we didn’t expect came out in the race, and we are very surprised about that.
“Because [in round one] I wasn’t able to brake hard, and we found the way with the setup and the electronics to fix that, and with the change of the electronics I was able to really ride in a better way in warm-up.
“But when I released the brake, I couldn’t [feel the front]. And with these temperatures and with this grip, when you can’t [feel] the bike, you are very limited.
“Pecco is riding in a better way than us, because he is using the rear brake and sliding in a different way. So for sure we will study, but we have already studied that.
“Jack was there, but I think he was really on the limit, and that was the reason he crashed. For sure there are a lot of interesting things to study and understand, to try to be ready for Brno.
“But we know how MotoGP is, every track is a different story.”
The next three rounds of the 2020 MotoGP championship will be held at Brno in Austria, a track at which Ducati has had considerable success.
It seems that Ducati will need to get on top of its handling issues if it hopes to compete for the championship, especially with Marc Marquez planning a swift return.
Spencer has a keen eye for hard news, and does some of his best living on deadline day. He loves more than anything to travel on his motorcycle, and is adamant that Melbourne Bitter is a world-class lager. He also knows how to operate the big computery thing in the office. By night, Spencer plays guitar with Melbourne punk outfit LOUTS.