It's no secret that Ducati's main goal for the GP18 is to reduce the mid-corner turning difficulties, which harmed its hopes at several circuits last season, especially Phillip Island.

Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna made clear that many parts will be tried during the opening tests, probably related to the chassis, after which they will 'cherry pick' the best for the start of the season.

But with Phillip Island dropped from the official 2018 pre-season test schedule in place of the new Buriram venue, and with the Desmosedici already very effective at Sepang and Qatar, how will Ducati know if they have improved the turning issue?

The team's MotoGP title runner-up Andrea Dovizioso insisted that, while the cornering problem has a bigger effect on competitiveness at some tracks, the 'characteristic' can be felt everywhere.

"If you go to those tracks [where Ducati struggles most] for testing it's easier, but it's not a problem because I know very well what we need to be stronger at those kinds of tracks. Because for me it is clear what we need to be faster," said the Italian, a winner of six races last season.

"So if you improve in that point [turning] you are faster also in other tracks. Because in Malaysia we are fast, but in the middle of the corner we are not fast like the competitors. The characteristic is always the same.

"In some tracks it becomes not so important [for the lap time], but the characteristic remains the same - of my bike and the bikes of the competitors."

Dovizioso was the surprise of 2017. After winning just two races in nine years and all eyes on new superstar team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, the Italian made a step during private testing in May, swept to victory in his home Mugello round and never looked back.

The #4 also defeated Marc Marquez at the final turn of a race, twice, and only lost out on the world championship to the Honda rider at the last round.

Following that success, Dovizioso knows the expectation on his shoulders will be much greater from the very first laps of 2018.

"Yes, for sure it is completely different than last year," he confirmed. "A lot of things are different. So it will be not easy, but for everybody. At the moment I'm not worried, also because I put the pressure on myself to try to win the championship."

A strong start to the season will not only be crucial for Dovizioso's title hopes, but play a big role in his 2019 contract negotiations, which are expected to start imminently.

"Everybody has a similar situation to manage, because everybody has to make a contract for the future and also get results.

"Because now we are speaking from the results of last year, but if you start the season in a bad way everything changes [in terms of your contract options].

"That's why I say I'm really focussed on the tests and the first part of the championship.

"I am open and I am happy to speak about the future, but in this moment I'm focussed on the tests. Because if you are not competitive and not working in the right way you can't make really good results this year. And that is my goal and target.

"For sure, soon I think, we will start to speak with Ducati about the future but we have to not lose the way in thinking about the championship. Because this is what we have to do.

"I don't know what I will do in the future, but it doesn't depend just on me. When it's the right time, we'll see."

Dovizioso took just one podium from the opening four rounds of last season and was ranked sixth in the championship heading into Mugello, hence the emphasis on a stronger start to 2018.



Loading Comments...