Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizoso says the Italian manufacturer won’t be able to gauge its true level of competitiveness until the fourth round of the 2017 season at Jerez.
The upcoming campaign marks a new era for Ducati, as three-time premier class champion Jorge Lorenzo joins the team alongside Dovizioso.
The team scored its first MotoGP wins since 2010 last year, as Andrea Iannone took victory at the Red Bull Ring, a track ideally suited to Ducati, while Dovizioso added a second triumph later in the year in the wet at Sepang.
But Dovizioso believes the Borgo Panigale marque will have to wait until it reaches May’s race at Jerez – where Ducati struggled in 2016 – to know where it truly lies in the pecking order in 2017.
“For sure [the Jerez race] will be an important test for us this year to understand our level, our competitiveness,” said Dovizioso.
“It will be affected a lot by the tyre, because last year the tyre wasn’t so good at Jerez. Everybody spun in the middle of the straight. With the track plus the tyre, our result there was quite bad.
“But for sure it remains an important test for us, because I expect to be quite competitive the first three races, but there is a difference [at those tracks].”
Dovizioso broke a personal winless streak dating all the way back to 2009 when he took victory at Sepang, but the Italian thinks the strong form Ducati showed late in the year was more significant than the win itself.
He added that the Desmosedici GP17 needs to be stronger mid-corner to be a threat everywhere.
“I put more importance on the speed we had in the last three non-European [races] than the victory [at Sepang],” said Dovizioso.
“If you want to fight for the championship, you have to be fast at every track. Still we are not fast in every track – this is our goal, and one of the biggest points is to improve the bike in the middle of the corners.
“We will have a lot of updates in Malaysia [testing] on our bike in every area, but I’m focused on the middle of the corner, to try to turn the bike a little bit easier, a little bit faster.
“And I think that’s what Jorge requested, so I’m happy about that – and there will be more effort in that way from Gigi [Dall’Igna, technical boss] to improve that point.”
Additional reporting by Matteo Nugnes