Dovizioso will ‘take time’ to adjust to Yamaha

Andrea Dovizioso

Andrea Dovizioso admits he will need time to adjust to riding a Yamaha after eight years on a Ducati.

The 35-year-old’s ‘sabbatical’ comes to an end when he rides for SRT from this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix, having not raced in MotoGP since he left the Bologna marque at the end of 2020.

His deal, directly with the factory, will see him then line up for the team which takes SRT’s place on the grid for the entirety of the 2022 campaign.

The man who came to be known as ‘Desmo Dovi’, in reference to Ducati’s Desmosedici MotoGP bike, has ridden a Yamaha before, but that was in his single, 2012 season at Tech3.

Cal Crutchlow was his team-mate then, and subsequently at the Ducati Team in 2014, with Dovizioso’s latest move making them stablemates again given the Briton is now a test rider for the Iwata manufacturer.

Crutchlow, who raced on a Honda RC213V as recently as last year, said that the Italian would not have an easy time adjusting to the YZR-M1, which makes its speed in a vastly different way to the Desmosedici.

Dovizioso made a similar point on the eve of the San Marino Grand Prix, but noted that he has the five remaining rounds of the 2021 season to come to terms with a Yamaha again.

He will contest those five rounds on Franco Morbidelli’s old bikes, the ‘A-Spec’ 2019 model, but gets Iwata’s latest gear next year.

“I can’t know how strong the bike is for the next five rounds, and I’m not worried about that,” said the three-time MotoGP championship runner-up.

“First, because I don’t have to fight for anything in the championship and the results.

“The important thing for our deal was to have a factory bike for next year, factory support, and we achieved that.

“The important thing this year is to feel good on the bike position-wise, and to understand the bike. For sure, I’ll have to ride in a very different way to the previous one, so it will take time, it will take time first for the position.

“I’m a bit more worried about that at the beginning than the bike; after that, once I feel comfortable with the position, I can start to push and give my feedback.

“MotoGP now, I think for a few reasons, is very tight. The last rider is very fast and close to the first, speed-wise, so it’s very difficult.

“But I know that and I’m not worried about that at the moment, I don’t have to be worried.”

Dovizioso heads the two factory Yamahas at last year’s Valencia Grand Prix

Dovizioso’s return to the grid, when it seemed like he might be shut out for good, is the latest development in a remarkable period in MotoGP.

Ultimately, it can seemingly be traced back to Maverick Viñales’ desire to leave Yamaha, a wish he was granted midway through this year.

That exit would have occurred at the end of the first of two seasons for which he had been contracted, at which time Morbidelli would have moved up from SRT to the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team.

It was hastened when Viñales apparently tried to blow up an engine in the first race after the summer break, the Michelin Grand Prix of Styria, but, either way, SRT faced a shortage of good riders in the market.

The Malaysian-owned operation also faced an impending sponsorship shortfall, with Dovizioso becoming part of a solution for both the manufacturer and whatever its satellite team will morph into in 2022.

“I said I wasn’t going to retire because I wanted to race in motocross,” laughed Dovizioso, who became an Aprilia test rider but never looked like wanting to race for the Noale manufacturer.

“I wasn’t worried at the end of last year, I knew what I wanted, and if something crazy happened or important doors opened, I was open to consider it, and motorsport is like that. It happened.

“If this hadn’t happened maybe it would be hard, but I didn’t leave the situation in a worried way or angry, just relaxed and doing what I like at home.

“But you know what happened this year, and I’m really happy to be here in this situation.

“For sure it’s not the best to start in the race weekend, because after eight years with the same bike, it will take time.

“But on the other side, I’m lucky because I’m able to do five races and two tests before next season, that’s what I’m looking for so I’m happy about that.”

Dovizioso will share the SRT garage with the retiring Valentino Rossi, while Morbidelli is reunited with former SRT team-mate Fabio Quartararo having signed on with Yamaha until the end of 2023.

Practice at Misano starts this evening (AEST).

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