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Dovizioso confident ahead of Donington Park

Dovizioso confident ahead of Donington Park

Dovizioso confident ahead of Donington Park

Reigning 125cc World Champion Andrea Dovizioso will arrive at Donington Park with his mind focussed on nothing less than a podium finish in Sundays British Grand Prix. Dovizioso, 19 years old from Forli in Northern Italy ran away with the 125cc title last season with a display of speed, consistency and tactical skills that left his rivals trailing.

Andrea, along with his Kopron Scot RS125RW Honda, was the man to beat last season and is proving to be a difficult proposition for all but the very best in the 250cc class of 2005. He has yet to win a race since he moved up to contest the quarter litre class but has consistently featured in the lead group contesting the win.

However, he has already scored two second and two third places from the seven grand prix races this season, and now holds third place in the 16-round world championship. Dovizioso is four points off the second place position held by Australian Casey Stoner (Aprilia) but is a massive 41 points behind points leader Dani Pedrosa, the reigning 250 World Champion.

Many have been surprised how quickly he has adapted to the RS250RW factory Honda but not Dovizioso. He said: "I adapted quickly to the 250 but I expected to. Now I have the same feeling with the 250 that I had with the 125."

Dovizioso is a modest and laid-back character by nature with a wry sense of humour, described by a close friend as a 'Cool dude.' Calm and quietly confident Dovizioso looks to take the maximum number of points possible out of every race he contests. If he is able to run away from his rivals he will build a time cushion over his pursuers to work from. If circumstances deny him the opportunity he wastes no mental or physical energy in pursuit of the impossible and sits in the lead group saving his tyres while deciding his tactics and race strategy for the run to the flag.

He is not at all surprised to be racing at the front of the field with the fastest men in the 250cc class. Quite the contrary, he would have been disappointed with anything less than his present performances. "No, I'm not surprised at all, even racing with Pedrosa. Dani is a very good rider but he has one year more experience than me. But that's only for this year," he said with a smile.

Working with his vastly experienced technical crew at the Scot Honda Team Dovizioso has quickly found a good base set-up to work from at each race track. The RS250RW calls for different solutions to problems similar to those posed by a 125 machine.

"Our secret is that we work hard in practice and qualifying - the whole team. The more work we can do on Friday and Saturday the less problems we will have during the race. There are some things a little less easy to sort out on the 250 than the 125. Chassis and suspension set-up has to be very good to get the best out of the tyres at the end of the race," the youngster said. "We had a front-end problem at Mugello and Barcelona, the front end turning in too fast, but we improved a lot before the race at Barcelona and at Assen it was a lot better. I'm sure we will quickly find a good set up for Donington."

Dovizioso's performance at Donington Park last year was typical of his title-winning season. The young Italian started the race from pole position and shot away from the start to take a comfortable victory. He has a special affinity with the 4.023km circuit and lists the East Midlands venue among his favourite tracks.

"I love racing at Donington Park because it has a good mix of fast and slow corners. I understand the track and where I can be really fast. I particularly like the section after the first corner, the next four corners are my favourites. That sweeping downhill section is very special. McLean's and Coppice are good to ride, they are quite fast and you can make time there. Everything flows so good on the fast sections at Donington Park," said the quietly confident Italian.

Even the slow corners at Donington are viewed as potential passing places. "Most riders have a fixed line in the slow corners but me and Pedrosa can take other lines at slow corners when we need to and are much faster."

Fitness is Dovizioso's only concern. He recently underwent an operation to relieve "muscle pump" in his right forearm. The problem was so severe at the last round at Assen that Dovizioso fell back from a potential podium place finish to cross the line in seventh.

The injury, common among top-flight motorcycle racers, restricts the flow of blood to the hands resulting in numbed fingers and a lack of feel and grip. Not an ideal situation when racing a lightweight 100bhp plus motorcycle at over 250km/h on a Sunday afternoon!

The operation was a success and Dovizioso has been doing light exercises to rebuild strength in his forearm. He is also carrying a lingering shoulder injury, the legacy of a high-speed crash in qualifying for the Catalan GP, but feels Donington Park is not physically demanding enough to aggravate the injury.

Now returned to full fitness and ready to race on one of his favourite tracks Dovizioso has the best chance yet of scoring his maiden 250cc GP victory on Sunday. If he does, the quiet unassuming Dovizioso will be the calmest man on the podium.

250cc, 2005, BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Andrea Dovizioso

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