The first race of MotoGP's new Michelin/single ECU era showed that Ducati are capable of fighting for victory despite no longer having any technical concessions.
Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso were the only riders other than Yamaha race winner Jorge Lorenzo to lead at Losail. Iannone made an early exit due to a fall on lap 6, but Dovizioso secured the runner-up spot for the second year in a row.
The gap between Dovizioso and victory may have grown from 0.174s to 2.019s, but in 2015 Ducati had access to four-litres more race fuel (reduced to two litres after Losail) compared to Yamaha and Honda. They could also change their engines far more frequently, being allowed twelve instead of seven for the season.
If their rivals hoped it would slow Ducati down on the straights, they were to be sorely disappointed - Iannone setting a new all-time MotoGP top speed record of 218.2mph.
“The Termas track is completely different to Losail, but judging by our current performance I think that now we have a good base for the next few races,” Dovizioso declared.
“This year it's always a bit of an unknown factor to go to a track where we have never tested with the Michelins, but after Qatar I am aware that the Desmosedici GP has already reached an excellent competitive level and so I am sure that we can also fight for the top positions at Termas.”
Iannone was the only rider in the led group to fall at Losail.
“I'm still pretty disappointed about the race in Qatar, because I was very fast, I had the right race pace and the potential to score a prestigious result,” he admitted. “Now I can't wait to race in Argentina, at the Termas circuit which has different characteristics to Losail and where it's sure to be a totally different race.
“It's a great circuit, and we will be going there with a lot of optimism: that's how we have to work this year and always try and be competitive.”
Dovizioso finished second last year in Argentina, with Iannone losing out on the final podium place to Cal Crutchlow at the final turn.