Andrea Dovizioso insists he is not fazed by the prospect of following in the footsteps of Valentino Rossi at Ducati, especially because his predecessor left after the most difficult spell of his career.
Dovizioso is aware of the pressures that come with replacing a rider of Rossi's calibre, but believes that the situation is easier than if Rossi had succeeded at Ducati.
"To take the place of Valentino is something special," said Dovizioso at the Wrooom media event in Italy, attended by AUTOSPORT.
"However, over the last two years, Ducati and Valentino did not go that well. So to take his place today is not that much of the problem as it might have been in the past.
"In the past he won a lot, so whichever rider would take his place [then] would have had a difficult position. But now, no, this is not an issue."
Rossi's Ducati exit means the team will be under less of the media spotlight than in the past. Dovizioso's team-mate Nicky Hayden sees both positives and negatives from the former champion's departure.
"I see it both ways of course," he said. "I had no problem with Valentino. We were team-mates before at Honda, and last year, until the crash in Indy, I had beaten him more than he had beaten me. I was able to be competitive with him.
"Of course there will be some good points [with him leaving] - with maybe some more focus on me and maybe more focus on my ideas.
"But equally there were benefits to having Valentino in the team. He brought a lot of motivation to the guys, and when he spoke, a lot of people listened.
"Without him, maybe we would not have got the aluminium chassis as quick as we did.
"Looking back on the two years [together at Ducati], the results were not as we had hoped and unfortunately it didn't work. But this is life. We tried and it didn't happen.
"I am not bitter about the last years. He's moved on now and I look forward to racing with him now. It is exciting for MotoGP to have him back on the Yamaha, and I know us at Ducati want to beat him very bad."
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