MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 15 – Wrooom, the annual journalist ski meeting put on by Phillip Morris in the Italian Dolomites, is legendarily known for not providing a superfluity of meaningful news. That was certainly the case last year when highly regarded technical wizard Filippo Preziosi spoke for over 45 minutes while saying virtually nothing. Preziosi is no longer an integral part of the MotoGP team, so there was optimism that we might learn something on the first official day of activities.
That optimism was dashed 35 minutes later when new Ducati signee Andrea Dovizioso completed his session with the media. The Italian didn’t reveal much news, other than about the injury that kept him out of the final Jerez Ducati test, but that wasn’t entirely Dovisioso's fault. Foul weather compromised the post-Valencia test and a micro-hernia in his neck shut him down when he tried to ride the Ducati GP12 in Jerez. So he said what he could about what little he did learn in his limited time, but mostly focused on what he was hopeful would happen.
“Unfortunately, I did just a few laps with the Ducati, so I cannot say much,” Dovisioso began. “I did an hour and a half in Valencia, but the conditions were a bit special. The first feeling has been positive, because I was expecting a bike that could be difficult to manage it based on what I'd heard, but my first contact was not such. And, of course, I'm going to have to see what we start doing good times with the best, so we’ll. In Jerez, I had a problem with my neck so I cannot ride the bike. These are two important days even if it was cold. A few hours could have been exploited. Luckily, we’re going to have six days in Malaysia, so I’m going to have the time to understand more about the Ducati bike.”
The problems in the future are Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, Marquez and others. They’re all on well advanced, race-winning factory equipment. When Ducati went to the perimeter aluminum frame, after ditching the failed frameless carbon fiber concept, they were joining the fold. That said, Dovisioso doesn’t believe in trying to replicate one of the Japanese bikes.
Dovisioso said Ducati does “not have to try to copy any other bike, first because if you try to copy a bike, someone else's bike, you're always going to be behind that specific bike, you're never going to make it better than them. But each bike, each maker has his own philosophy, so it's normal that you always have to of course study and understand what other makers are doing, what is positive about other bikes, but not to copy, absolutely not copy.
“So the days in Malaysia” for the two Sepang tests in February, according to Dovisioso, “are going to be important for me to understand the Ducati, the bike, because I cannot say much about it because I did just a few laps as mentioned with it. “
Dovizioso consistently suppressed expectations by repeatedly saying the Ducati was a long-term project, long-term in his mind being two years. “I think that's going to be enough,” he said. “As for the first year, I think it's going to be a bit special. I should not set a special goal as far as results are concerned, because with the bike that we have we simply have to understand, in my case, how it works and then slowly…we will have the tests, many.” There are, at the moment, three preseason tests, but that could change. Much of the development may have to take part on the race weekend, which, Dovisioso said, “is the one hand positive because it allows you to make a fine adjustment of the bike because you compare yourself with the other competitors, but the time is minimal. For example, last year there were also some special weather conditions that did not allow us to test the bike much and so many things. So for the first year we’re going to work, work, work to understand.” Ducati’s problem is that they’re, essentially, starting over while Honda and Yamaha have a one year head start on the 1000s. “To stay up front, to get on the podium, to win the championship is difficult.”
Dovisioso first experienced the neck pain while taking part in the Monza Rally in late November, but cars were something new to him, so he didn’t know if it was a typical injury or not.” The Ducati rider added that he “did all the treatments, I came to Jerez, I thought I was fine, now because of the cold, because of the problem with the neck, this hernia, now the first brake on the straight without pushing in any way” the pain came shooting back. “And there was no way of improving my health scenario even by taking drugs, so I simply could not stay on the bike because of the position is an unnatural position with the neck back where you have to rotate your head. It was impossible.”
Days after the Ducati Jerez test, Dovisioso was well enough to take part in a Supermoto race in support of the Marco Simoncelli Foundation. The inflammation had subsided and in Supermoto, he explained, “You are more straight with your (riding) position. With the supermotard, okay, it was a bit painful but I could do it. It was and important race for Simoncelli in Lattina. Not only did he take part, but he and his teammate, Mauno Hermunen, beat a host of other stars in the race of 58 laps in honor of Simoncelli’s number. Valentino Rossi and his teammate were third, with the recently retired World Superbike champion Max Biaggi eighth. An MRI after the race revealed a micro-herniation at the C5, C6 vertebrae in the Ducati rider's neck. Since then Dovisioso has had further treatment to “stabilize and dehydrate this microhernia. It's something a bit special, meaning that it's improved but it takes a long time to solve. So I'm fine. I do cross and there are no problems, so I'm training but I'm still not at 100%. I think and hope that I'm not going to have any problem in the future.”