Andrea Dovizioso believes his feeling with his 2016 package is currently 'much, much better' than at the start of preseason testing, but was left scratching his head on Thursday as a vibration hindered the feeling on his Desmosedici GP.
So nearly a winner at Qatar in 2015, the Italian was the third fastest Ducati on the first day of free practice, and ninth overall as he lapped the Losail circuit 0.94s slower than early pace setter Jorge Lorenzo.
While the base setting on the new Ducati 'is really good', Dovizioso stated that he needed to find something extra to compete for a race win on Sunday, and went on to describe how a vibration had deprived him of the necessary comfort needed to push for a lap time.
“I think how we arrived this weekend, yes [we've made a step],” started the Ducati man, as he enters his fourth season with the Bologna factory. “Compared to the first test in Valencia and the last test in Qatar my feeling is much, much better. Still it's not 100 percent to win the race but we are close.
“The base of the bike is really good. We know the bike. Yes, there are different rules and they make a big difference but that's for everybody. Just the race shows the reality so we have to wait for that moment. Anyway, today I have a vibration so I couldn't really make a good lap time.
“We can't know [about the vibration] because we have a tyre limit, we can't try a different one. We'll try another one tomorrow. It's something quite normal because you found a different condition to the test. For me it was a problem with the front but it could have started in the rear. It's still something to understand.”
Asked to expand upon the changes in regulations that have greatly affected the field over the off-season, Dovizioso continued that Michelin's new control tyres are – by some distance – the biggest hurdle to overcome in the process of adaption.
“100 percent it's the tyres. The difference compared to Bridgestone is so big and you have to do a completely different line and braking. Also the bike is completely different than with the Bridgestone. It was a not easy winter test, it wasn't like in the past. And still we have much we can improve on the bike.
“[With the new electronics] How you have to manage the slide is completely different because you don't have the control. It's on maximum angle still where you have a lot of horsepower. It's not easy but it's the same for everybody. We already did a few tests like this. The rider have to change the little bit but the biggest difference is the tyres.”
Aside from Jorge Lorenzo's enviable opening day pace, Hector Barbera placed his name among the top four as a winter of burgeoning promise spilled over and into the beginning of the season. Asked for his take on an old rival from the 125 and 250cc class, Dovizioso added, “It's too early to say.
“I don't know. I know Hector from the 125s. We did every year in the same category. I know he's a big talent and he was always really, really fast. But the race is different so we will see.”