Sunday's season-opening Qatar MotoGP ended with Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati halving the deficit to victory, relative to last season.

The Italian finished seventh and 24 seconds behind the winner in the 2013 Losail event, but crossed the line 12 seconds adrift for fifth place on Sunday.

When asked by if he was surprised by the improvement, Dovizioso replied: "I'm not surprised by the 12 second gap. It confirms the improvements we made in the tests, this is what we expected. We made exactly half the gap compared to last year so we have to be happy and it's so positive."

However Dovizioso also warned that there is still much work to be done and that the cornering issue that has plagued the Desmosedici still persists.

"The reality is that we can't fight because the cornering is the key problem and we haven't made changes to help that. What we changed in the bike couldn't help the cornering problem that we have and I believe that in MotoGP you have to ride the bike a certain way.

"You have to exit the corner and pick up the bike to make it accelerate, and to save tyres and energy. This is confirmed in the race; in practice many riders are fast but in the race it's always the same riders at the front. It's because of how they ride the bike."

The need to solve the handling issues was echoed by Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati's team manager, with the Italian commenting that:

"It is positive that in the race we confirmed the improvements that we had already shown during the tests. The gap to the frontrunners has been considerably reduced since last year, but we've still got a lot of work to do to recover ground and so it is important for us to continue to work hard on the project."

Dovizioso's team-mate Cal Crutchlow finished in sixth place after battling electronic issues.

Qatar was Ducati's first race with the Open class concessions, now available to any Factory entry by a manufacturer without a dry win in the previous season. Top Open class rider Aleix Espargaro (Forward Yamaha) beat Dovizioso to fourth place by half a second on Sunday.



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