A new season it may be, but Ducati's old failing remains. Andrea Dovizioso's face during preseason testing at Phillip Island said it all, as he noted the difficulty in turning - the Desmosedici's weakness in recent seasons - had not been cured over the winter months.

According to 31-year old Dovizioso, the 2017 Desmosedici is "the best Ducati I ever rode" but he is still some way off from entertaining the idea of a title challenge. "For sure the base is really good," he said in a recent interview with Crash.net. "[But] It's not good enough to fight for the championship."

Dovizioso explained the prohibitive issues with agility are noticeable as soon as he releases the brake when entering the corner, meaning radical set-up changes or different cornering styles can do little to affect the weakness.

"The limit we have is still too big and the limit comes out too early," he said in Jerez. "For both riders, we have the same limit. It's too big so it doesn't matter the riding style you have.

"The limit is too early so you can't make a big change on the bike to have an effect on that. So you can use the bike with a different set-up but the limit is always there. That is the reason why we can't be really fast. It starts when I release the braking and it continues. Also when I touch the throttle it continues. Every time it's like this."

While this has been a hindrance for Ducati riders for some time, Daniele Romagnoli, crew chief to Danilo Petrucci, who also rides a GP17, believes this the banning of winglets for the '17 season has not helped.

The pronounced aerodynamic feature, which was regularly seen on the front of Ducati's factory machines, placed more downforce on the front end of the machine, which in turn helped to load the front tyre, and aid corner speed.

"Basically because you have more load on the front," explained Romagnoli, who has worked on Ducati machinery since 2014. "The more you squeeze the front tyre on the round, the more grip you have and the higher corner speed you can achieve. Mainly it is this.

"But also the winglets work with the anti-wheelie effect. They make the bike stronger in acceleration. There was less front lift. In this area for example, when you change a bit the geometry, the weight balance, we have some good compromise. I don't think it's that area where we are losing.

"Still, it's more about the loading the front without the front brake and then going on the gas. The front can slide, goes lighter and the bike doesn't turn. It goes straight and doesn't make a good corner. We have to reduce a lot the speed to make a good turn. But this loses time."

It appears Ducati's radical 'hammerhead' fairing that was debuted by Dovizioso and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo at the final preseason test in Qatar was an attempt to cure this difficulty with loading the front tyre, as well as aiding acceleration.

That design has since been shelved, with sporting director Paolo Ciabatti confirming it limited the machine's top speed. However, Romagnoli hinted that a new design would more than likely arrive "in the near future."

"We expected to build a new fairing, which would give some downforce. What we have done so far is still not good enough. We are working on that. We are thinking for the near future to introduce a new fairing, but not yet.

"Because we are not ready with this fairing, it's a point that we are losing something compared to other machines, which can already turn better without the winglets." Asked when this new fairing will be available to riders, Romagnoli said, "For sure, it will be in the near future but at this stage I can't say so much."

In spite of the these issues, Lorenzo scored his first podium for the Bologna factory at Jerez, a circuit which has rarely favoured the red machines in the past, while Dovizioso was a heartening fifth.

CLICK HERE to read the full interview with Andrea DoviziosoCLICK HERE to read the full interview with Daniele Romagnoli

By Neil Morrison


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