Ducati Corse sporting director Paolo Ciabatti said the factory were left 'happy and confident' by Jorge Lorenzo's debut on the Desmosedici.

The triple MotoGP champion, joining Ducati after spending his entire premier-class career at Yamaha, made an impressive start by setting a close third-fastest lap time (+0.122s) in testing at Valencia on Tuesday.

"It was the first contact for Jorge on the Ducati after nine years with Yamaha, so it was not obvious that he would feel comfortable, but I think he is comfortable on the bike," Ciabatti said. "There is still a lot of work to do, but we spent the day trying to adapt the bike to his ergonomics and settings. We worked in a positive way and this makes us very confident for the future.

"We were happy with the lap time, but more happy with the general feeling. As I said it was not obvious that after nine years with one manufacturer you would change and feel comfortable on a new bike. It looks like this is happening so we can only be happy.

"Jorge was only concentrating on the 2016 bike and tomorrow, if everything goes right, he will go out with the 2017 version."

Unable to speak to the media due to his Yamaha contract, Lorenzo was nonetheless seen with a big smile on his face throughout the day. The Spaniard also spent considerable time speaking with former rival Casey Stoner, a Ducati test rider since the start of this year and due to work even closer with the factory in 2017.

"The fact that Casey was with us today was an additional benefit I think," Ciabatti said. "Obviously Casey knows the 2016 bike very well, because he tested three times this year and he saw the evolution of the bike. He and Jorge also have a very good relationship and have confidence in each other. So being able to exchange opinions with Casey, I think it was a plus, especially because it was Lorenzo's first day. He also exchanged opinions with Dovi.

"It was good to have the possibility for Casey to stay for these two days, but this is also part of his new role as special test rider/consultant - not only brand ambassador. Casey is able to speak the same 'language', at the same high level, with the top riders in MotoGP and luckily we have two top riders in our team so it is a great help."

Ducati has claimed its first MotoGP race wins since Stoner in 2010 this season, courtesy of a victory each for Dovizioso and former team-mate Andrea Iannone. Ciabatti admitted that the combination of Lorenzo, Dall'Igna, Stoner, Dovizioso and a race-winning Desmosedici means they must now target a championship challenge.

"We think we have a very strong team for next year and obviously when you have a strong team and a competitive bike you have to target challenging for the championship," he said. "This is clearly our target.

"It is never an easy target because you are fighting against other manufacturers that have been winning more than we have, with riders who have been winning a lot of races. But obviously Jorge is one of those riders, winning three championships and over 40 races in MotoGP.

"Dovi got his race win again in Sepang and I think this is also helping him get some extra confidence in what he can achieve on the bike.

"So I think Ducati has a very strong team for next year and the target is to challenge the others for the world title: Which means we try, winning is obviously our priority number one but never easy! We have a few years to try to get that result, beginning at Qatar next year."

Stoner claimed Ducati's only MotoGP title to date in 2007.

By Peter McLaren



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