“He is a good guy”
Andrea Dovizioso´s move to Repsol Honda has been a big talking point for World Championship observers, eager not only to see what the Italian can do with a first factory ride in MotoGP but how his relationship will be with new teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Italian has been described as `just another rival´ by Pedrosa´s manager Alberto Puig, but Dovizioso is keen to emphasise that there is no bad feeling in the Honda camp.
Speaking at the EICMA motorcycle exhibition in Milan last week, Dovizioso played down any initial tension between the duo, although he admitted that the relationship was not in full stride just yet.
“Dani is a former 125cc and 250cc World Champion and a great rider, but first of all he is a good guy, probably even shyer than I am. Maybe this is the reason why we don't have a great feeling yet, but we will have a lot of time to know each other”, said the rider about to enter his sophomore year in the premier class. “I think right now he is not reaching his level on the road, maybe also because of his manager.”
A considered approach to his goals for 2009 includes beating his teammate, especially with only a year to prove himself as a factory rider, but Dovizioso is primarily concerned with his own performances over the course of the year.
“To finish ahead of Dani would be important, and I am confident about my chances, but I will be mainly focused on stepping on the podium any time I can, being consistent with my new Honda HRC throughout the season”, says the 22 year-old, who took his first rostrum finish in Malaysia last month.
The former 250cc runner-up also gave his thoughts on 2008´s top two in the premier class, with an intriguing insider view on Valentino Rossi´s return to the pinnacle of motorcycle racing.
“Valentino and I are friends, and we get along with each other very well. Valentino managed to win the title in a season in which Casey Stoner was usually the fastest rider on the circuit. This means that sometimes regularity is even more important than speed. Valentino's driving style has changed a lot since he switched to Yamaha, he is focusing more on precision. I try to learn a lot from my colleagues, and firstly from great champions like Valentino.”