“We're pleased with the way things are going”
Alex de Angelis' swift adaptation to MotoGP has perhaps gone undeservedly unnoticed amidst the attention lent to fellow rookies Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, but the San Marino rider has been raising his profile in 2008
with some mercurial times onboard the Honda RC212V.
Finishing ahead of some of the more experienced riders in MotoGP at last week's test in Phillip Island –including team-mate Shinya Nakano and factory riders Marco Melandri, Loris Capirossi & Anthony West- the San Carlo Honda Gresini rookie is continuing at full steam this week in Sepang.
When asked in Malaysia about De Angelis' acclimatisation to the heights of 800cc competition, the men with the closest contact with the 23 year-old in the satellite team garage were glowing in their appraisals.
“We have begun working with a new, young rider, and the experience has been positive so far. We're progressing step-by-step and his feeling with the bike is improving”, said Fabrizio Cecchini, the debutante's Chief Mechanic. “We're pleased with the way things are going, and Alex has a good attitude. I believe that he can get a good result from the first race of the season.”
Having worked with the likes of Marco Melandri and Toni Elias –two riders with a rich pedigree in 250cc- Cecchini is in a prime position to assess the difficulties in getting used to a MotoGP bike. The Italian holds the belief that the 800cc machines of this year and last are more forgiving on the newcomers, as he explained.
“In general it's easier for the young riders to get used to the 800cc than it was with the 990cc, and I'm sure all the guys moving up from 250cc this year can perform well.”
His is a belief shared by Shinya Nakano, the man who will sit across the garage from De Angelis this season. The Japanese rider also came through the ranks of the 250cc category, although he admits that his baptism of fire was somewhat dissimilar to that of his team-mate.
“Alex is young, with no experience of a MotoGP bike, and already has fast times. I was a bit surprised. It seems like it's quite easy to move to MotoGP from 250cc!”, noted the other new addition to Fausto Gresini's satellite Honda team. “I find it difficult to understand; when I arrived from 250cc I went to 500cc and it was hard, then to 990cc. I'm quite impressed with what the new guys are doing.”
Despite the plaudits, De Angelis himself is refusing to get carried away with his fast times from Australia.“I wasn't really expecting to be that quick”, notes the San Marino rider. “I have to admit that it's my favourite track and I always enjoy riding there, but I never thought that my first MotoGP test there would be so good. However, I shouldn't use that as a reference point. I think it's good in terms of motivation but I know I won't always be that quick everywhere.”
De Angelis and Nakano are both on track tomorrow for day two of testing in Sepang, with a different qualifying tyre to be analysed before the conclusion of the week.
DORNA / CAPSIS International