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Benson: `New blood´ Dovizioso has top three potential

Benson: `New blood´ Dovizioso has top three potential

Repsol Honda Chief Mechanic ready for new challenge with Italian star.

A man behind the scenes in the successful careers of MotoGP title winners Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, Pete Benson knows a talented rider when he sees one. The New Zealander has seen longtime collaborator Hayden –for whom he was the Chief Mechanic in a World Championship winning 2006 season- move along the paddock to Ducati Marlboro’s garage for this season, but is talking highly of the American’s replacement in the Repsol Honda ranks. Benson has even gone so far as talk up the possibility of a top three finish for new boy Andrea Dovizioso in 2009.

”Of course, everybody wants to win, but looking at the year realistically it will be difficult for Andrea to do that in his first year with the team,” said Benson at last week’s Sepang test. “However, I’d be disappointed if we were outside the top five, and I’d love a top three finish from him; he’s certainly proved that he has the potential.”

Sad to see Hayden leave at the end of last season, Benson is looking forward to working with one of the next generation of MotoGP talent in his latest challenge for Honda. The Sepang visit was another important step forward for one of the most crucial dynamics in the World Championship, as the team gelled further whilst preparing the RC212V bike.

”It’s really different to have a new guy with us; the last rider we had for a long time. Having new blood is interesting, and we’re just trying to understand each other and get things in the right direction at the moment,” adds the paddock veteran.

”The bike itself hasn’t changed much with the chassis, but there is still some stuff to try. The engine improvements have been good, but now we’ve just got to focus on getting everything working with Bridgestone tyres. Once we get the bike set up for the tyres it will be easier because there are less variables this year.”

Dovizioso was the only Repsol Honda rider in action on Saturday, as his teammate Dani Pedrosa had left Malaysia early due to lack of fitness. Injuries to Pedrosa have in the past put a great deal of the onus of developing Honda’s 800cc bikes on Benson’s side of the garage.

MotoGP, 2009, Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda Team

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