With just six days (reduced to five by a sandstorm) to understand the Ducati Desmosedici before the season-opening Qatar MotoGP weekend, rookie Luca Marini has been trying to learn as much as he can from the data of the factory's more experienced riders Jack Miller, Francesco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco.

Marini explained that while all Ducati riders share some riding similarities, dictated by the strengths of the bike, there are also some interesting differences.

Moto2 title runner-up Marini - riding a 2019 spec bike at Avintia - reduced his lap time by 0.6s between the two Qatar tests to finish 21st of the 29 riders, 1.8s from fastest man Miller, on the new GP21.

Factory team-mate Bagnaia was the next best Ducati in fourth, with Pramac's Johann Zarco in ninth.

Miller's searing speed was no surprise to Marini, who said the Australian is able to merge Ducati's long held stop-and-go strengths with 'Yamaha-like' corner speed.

"I think everybody rides in a similar way [on the Ducati]. You can see that the bike needs some specific[style] - the rider has to do something to make the bike turn and stop better. But every rider has his own way to do this," Marini began.

"So it's interesting for me to look at the three top guys, the riders with more experience on the Ducati. Also I look at the data of [fellow rookies] Martin and Enea [Bastianini], but for sure to learn faster it is more important to check with Miller, Zarco and Pecco.

"Jack is very strange how he uses the bike, also the set-up, so it is not easy to copy. But you can see with Jack the bike has a very big potential; he can make the bike turn in the corners like a Yamaha. He has very good corner speed.

"So I also want to improve the corner speed and make the bike like he does because it's very important for the lap time.

"I think every Ducati rider brakes very late, deep and hard to make the lap time, but also Jack is impressive how he can turn the bike in the middle of the corner.

"Pecco looks like the most similar to me maybe, so it's easier to compare the data with him.

"Meanwhile Zarco rides in a very singular [unique] way so it's not very easy to compare with him, but he was in Avintia last year so also my crew chief knows him very well and you can check also with him interesting things."

Pressed on what he sees as different in Zarco's style and why it's harder to compare with the Frenchman, Marini replied:

"It's not easy to explain. There is something in common with all the Ducati riders, because to be fast you have to do some things, but you can also see how every Ducati rider rides the bike in a slightly different way.

"Zarco is one that is struggling in some areas that are not areas where I'm losing more. So for now, it's not easy for me to compare the data with him, also because he uses different electronic settings and uses the rear brake in a very different way.

"With this bike the influence of the rear brake is very important. You have to use it a lot during all of the lap. For now, I'm not using enough the rear brake, so it's not easy to compare with him because he is using a lot of rear brake. As are Pecco and Miller.

"I don’t know how to explain well. He [Zarco] is a little bit different. Nothing big. Just maybe he doesn't brake as hard then he lets the bike enter fast into the corner, but he can manage the middle of the corner to turn the bike and then he tries to be smooth in the exit of the corners.

"It's not very precise in the first touch of the gas, in my opinion. But he can adjust this with the electronic and at the end if you check the speed also in the exit of the corner he is quite strong."

In terms of his own adaption, Marini revealed he will go into the opening race weekend having found a good set-up for the rear of the bike, but having barely touched the front.

"We didn't work in the front, this is the biggest problem because first of all we focussed on the rear and tried to find a good solution for my riding style, for feeling good in the middle and exit of the corner," he explained.

"Now we've found it. So we can focus more on the front and try a different compromise. In particular, I just need something that helps me turn the bike in an easier way, in the last part of corner entry and releasing the brakes especially.

"I can brake hard like all the other Ducati riders, but in the last part of entry I struggle more and also when I did the race simulation with the front tyre it was not easy after the drop [in grip].

"So in particular only this, try to find an easier way to make the bike turn in the first part of entry."

Marini's team-mate and reigning Moto2 champion Enea Bastianini was the top newcomer at the Qatar tests in 15th place (1.322s), with fellow rookie Jorge Martin 14th fastest on a Pramac-run GP21 bike.

As such, the trio of Ducati rookies look fairly evenly matched heading into their first premier-class event, but Marini insisted his target is simply to learn.

"I didn't set any targets because in my opinion now is not the right moment to do this," he said of the March 26-28 weekend. "I just would like to feel more comfortable on the bike but for sure we will try something on Friday [practice] and if I can feel better on the bike on Friday, I will be very happy about this work in the winter tests. Because we worked very well. We tried different things but in the end we missed some kilometres, some time, to be in a better situation.

"For everybody it is the same but I would like to have some more time. But I'm quite satisfied about our job, we worked very well. I understand a lot of new things about the riding style of a MotoGP and the tyres. I think that if we can just adjust the bike a little more on Friday, I can be in good form also for qualifying, even if I don’t try a really time attack in the test.

"We will see in qualifying, in the same conditions for everybody, how is my pace."

 

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