Tito Rabat’s grin stretched ear-to-ear when detailing his final day of MotoGP testing in 2017 at Jerez, where he put Ducati’s GP17 through a race-distance run, which led him to conclude, ‘This bike is unbelievable!’

The 2014 Moto2 world champion ended Thursday’s full day of testing seventh overall, just seven tenths of a second back of pace setter Andrea Dovizioso’s best time.

Aside from a small crash at turn one, Rabat found most of the GP17’s characteristics to his liking. Only after 22 laps did he find his performance dropping away, an aspect to contemplate over the winter months.

“A very positive day,” exclaimed the Catalan. “I enjoyed it a lot, especially in the morning. We tried one long run but I lost the focus because of the new buttons [on the handlebars]. I touched the button, and crashed at turn one. We tried again with a bit more cold but even like this it was good.

“We had a very good pace, very good rhythm for the race distance, except for lap 22. I have to work a lot to finish the race. This bike is unbelievably good. It’s super competitive in all the areas. The team also. Me, I’m in a good performance now. Where we have to work is finishing the races and everything will be OK.”

Expanding on how he can aid performance in the latter stages of a race run, Rabat offered, “It’s a question of opening the gas in a smooth way, keeping the tyre cool and learning to open the gas smoothly. That’s it. I have to work with the mapping guys. This is the question. Of course fitness has to improve, but I’m OK.

“To make a fast lap, the electronics work so well, and you can open it like an animal. But to make a long run, a race distance, you have to manage well the gas. If you don’t manage the gas well, everything can go bad. But if you manage it well it can be very good. It’s a really big difference.”

Rabat has also been pleasantly surprised by the machine’s turning agility, a trait that has been so often condemned by factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.

“The bike for me is not heavy [when changing direction],” Rabat said. “It’s quite good. Everything is good. The only thing is what I say - work on the race distance. On used tyres it’s quite nice, quite smooth. The agility, if you ride in the direction of Ducati, the bike is also agile. I just need to ride it like a Ducati and everything will be good. “

An area of the machine that has really stood out is the Ducati’s electronics set-up. Asked which area was an improvement over the machine he rode during the past two seasons, Rabat said, ‘Everything!’

“The anti-wheelie system; the engine brake; everything! Also, I think the character of this bike is better for me. We need to speak again in Qatar. I can only speak for the moment. But my best time here with the Honda is a 1m 40.95s. Today I make 1m 40s all the time. I make a 38.3 alone. It means this bike is better.”


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