Few predicted that Andrea Dovizioso would take the MotoGP title fight down to the final round in 2017.

But the Italian's stunning season means he will be high on his rivals' radar from the very start of next season.

"I think it's only positive," the Ducati rider said of the increased expectation. "Because now we have the feeling that we can do it.

"Otherwise, not a lot will change next year, because there will not be many changes with teams, riders and rules.

"So I think we can start next season very similar to the way we finished 2017.

"Just I think that the competitors will look at us in a little bit of a different way than at the beginning of this season…"

Part of the reason for Dovizioso and Ducati slipping under the radar was down to relatively low-key performances in winter testing.

But the Italian feels having the calmness and discipline to look beyond a one-off lap time pays dividends once the racing starts.

"Every weekend the gap from the rider in 1st and the rider in 15th position is very small," he said.

"That makes a difference also in the way you test. Because in the tests you can see a lot of fast riders, but in the races it is always the same riders in the front, more or less.

"Because there is a way to make a test, which is without taking a lot of risks and trying to understand all the pieces you try.

"It's not easy because sometimes you see a lot of riders are fast in a test, so you can feel 'it’s not the best day for me'.

"But you have to stay calm and continue to work in your box, because the details will make a difference in the race weekend."

The first official MotoGP test of 2018 takes place at Sepang from January 28-30, when Dovizioso and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo are expected to debut the GP18 Ducati.

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