Ominous warning about Ducatis from inside the paddock

Does anyone stand any hope against the mighty Ducatis this year?

Francesco Bagnaia, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February
Francesco Bagnaia, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February

The form showed by Ducati’s riders is a stark warning for their rivals, insists Simon Crafar.

Francesco Bagnaia went fastest on both days of the Qatar preseason test. He has broken lap records in Sepang and Qatar this year already.

Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin were second-fastest on each day, an ominous sight as the season prepares to get underway.

“I would say it’s gone pretty much perfect, from their point of view,” ex-racer Crafar reported about Ducati.

“I had a catch-up with Davide Tardozzi and it wasn’t necessary because, you could see, they are right on target.

“Everything they have tested has worked.

“It might have taken a little bit of working out. The electronics settings, the new engine…

“The new engine, the new aero, the new exhaust are all on there. Pecco did [his lap record] and the whole paddock went ‘wow!’

“It was sixth tenths faster than anyone at the time.

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“A lot of people got their head down to try to close that gap.

“Both the GP23 have had really good feedback from the riders on them.

“They’ve made good headway. They are comfortable.

“The GP24s are all happy. They’re saying ‘a little bit more rear grip’ when everyone else says the opposite.”

Factory riders Bagnaia and Bastianini, plus Pramac’s Martin and Franco Morbidelli (who has missed preseason due to injury) will ride GP24s this year.

Gresini’s Marc and Alex Marquez, and VR46’s Fabio di Giannantonio and Marco Bezzecchi, will ride the year-old bike.

“Ducati look really dangerous,” Crafar insisted.

“Tardozzi said ‘everything is going well but we are keeping our feet on the floor because we go away, car racing is going on here, we come back and track conditions will be different so we start from scratch again’.

“He’s a very experienced man. He has won multiple world championships as a team manager. And he is right.

“They are in an awesome position.”

Bagnaia’s championship win in 2022 ended 15 years without winning for the Italian manufacturer.

He then repeated the feat last year in a season dominated by Ducati, with three of their riders vying for the title.

The addition of Marquez to the troops is an additional difficulty for Aprilia, KTM, Honda and Yamaha to overcome.

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