Having left the first Sepang MotoGP
test feeling 'every area of the bike' needed improving, new factory Ducati recruit Andrea Dovizioso
made a significant step - and confirmed the big unsolved issue - during the second visit.
Over two seconds off the pace meant there was plenty to gain after the early February test, but track conditions were also slower for Sepang II, illustrated by Dani Pedrosa's first test best standing unbeaten.
It was against that backdrop that Dovizioso found 0.627s - and team-mate Nicky Hayden
0.332s - relative to the fastest lap time, promoting the pair to eighth (Dovizioso) and ninth (Hayden) on the final Sepang II timesheet.
“In this moment we don't have the possibility to fight with Hondas and Yamahas at the top, this is the reality. Everybody can see,” said Dovizioso. “But we knew that and it is not a surprise.
“These six days in Malaysia were so good, mainly Sepang II, because we tried many set-ups and gave a lot of feedback for the engineers. I'm really happy about how much we improved with the same bike.”
Dovizioso was still +1.368s from Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, but on the final day he had got to within 1.068s of the top. “The lap time is quite good,” said Dovizioso. “I did my best lap one and a half hours before anyone else. For the track conditions I think it was quite fast.”
Frame components, a new fuel tank - which changed the weight distribution - plus electronic 'strategies' contributed to the progress. However the Desmosedici's main weakness remains its tendency to understeer in the centre of the corners.
“We improved the set-up so that I could brake harder and enter the corner faster,” Dovizioso said. “Still in the middle of the corner we are quite slow, so that is where we need to improve.
“The bike doesnt turn. It wants to go straight. So I can't make higher speed in the middle of the corner because I can't keep the line.”
Pressed further, Dovizioso explained the exact difficulties the understeer causes in terms of lap time.