MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 15 - Bad weather and injuries prevented Andrea Dovizioso from getting much meaningful time on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 before the testing ban went into effect in December. As much as he'd like to have been able to tell the media assembled for the 2013 Wrooom International Press Ski meeting how he'd like to change the bike, he couldn't. Instead he was left to talk about what he hoped would happen and when, before he left for the slopes to go snowboarding.
Dovi and teammate Nicky Hayden have to continue to develop the aluminum-framed machine which performed well below expectations in 2012. Valentino Rossi earned three podiums, Hayden, for the first time in his MotoGP career, earned none. And that was after Ducati probably spent more money in a single season that at any time in their MotoGP existence. Now it's up to Dovi and Hayden to turn the bike into something that likes to go into and around corners, something it's never done well, as well as tame the engine power, which may be done through electronics. Whatever they have to do, Dovi's up for it, though he repeatedly referred to the Ducati transformation as a "long-term project," later defining long term as the length of his contract, two years.
"I think that we must be open-minded at 360 degrees, we must be open to understand," he said in Italian, which was simultaneously translated into English.
The biggest problem is time. They have, at present, three three-day tests before the start of the season, two of which are in Malaysia where the weather is certain to be a factor. Then there's the season, which starts in less than three months, which puts a strain on developing new material, "but I believe that if we can understand that something important has to be changed based on the timing available, we're going to do all possible to do so. And I believe that the two years, the last two years when Valentino was with the team, I can't help but to see them as two positive years, meaning that things do not work, if one tackles them with intelligence you can improve them. That's the best way to improve them. So we simply have to take what we have, an open mind at 360° vis-à-vis any positive change."
Dovi has Hayden as a partner in this venture and he said all the right things about the Kentuckian. He said he "has always been extremely correct as a rider" and that he was "happy to have him as my teammate. Personally my character is I'm a very calm person and I'm sure this is a reciprocal desire to work together. If you want to exchange ideas, I'm the first one to be able to be open so as to improve the bike, so I'm totally open. So I'm very happy, I repeat, about the team and of having Nicky. I spoke to him, of course, already. He has already told me what his ideas are, but were going to have all the time to get to know each other more in the future and I think that is a very nice person and it's not easy to find a person like him within the world championship."
Dovi was recruited by Filippo Preziosi, the former technical boss who's no longer directly involved with the MotoGP project. The new overall boss is Bernhard Gobmeier, formerly of BMW's World Superbike team. Dovi had dinner with the German and came away impressed.
"He is extremely determined and this is extremely important, [to be] so extremely focused," Dovi said. "Apart from this he shows the tranquility, a calmness, meaning that we must develop the methodology together to understand. This is what we need. So once we can understand then we can start working, because to simply develop material in this direction, in that direction is not helpful, especially because we do not have much time, so we need a method to follow."
That method will involve working with what he rode at the end of last year, with some changes, he admitted.
"Yes, this is inevitable," he said. "When you make a major change within a team you have such and such days which require these changes. Consequently, Ducati, of course, has continued to work on certain things that had been decided on, but if we speak about the real and proper development, so to say, of the bike we are going to start from Malaysia. And this is negative of course, but it was not possible to do otherwise. And, fine, also because as mentioned previously we must think about a long term project, a two-year project. We are going to start for Malaysia and will see from there."