Andrea Dovizioso could do little to hide his pleasure at the close of MotoGP action in Qatar as he prepared for his flight back to Europe feeling “very happy” and “calm” after “maybe the best test I’ve ever done.”

The Italian was in ominous shape in terms of outright speed and consistency over the three days, emerging from Saturday night with the third fastest time, and earning praise from reigning world champion Marc Marquez, who acknowledged his principle rival from 2017 “will be very, very fast from the beginning” of the season. 

Dovizioso can now recall recent successful outings at Sepang, Buriram and Losail, where Ducati’s GP18 has proven to be a step up from its predecessor, but he was wary of getting too excited on Saturday evening, stressing the need to “keep my feet on the ground.”

“I'm really happy,” he began. “[It was] better than last year. Apart from the speed, the way I did the lap time, the way I did the pace, the way I did the pace with the used tyre, our situation is really good.

“But like always, the race weekends are completely different. We found in the test three good days, and normally in Qatar, it's not like this, so I believe like every years, the race weekend will be different, and the problems we will have during the race weekend will be different to the test.

“So overall I'm happy, I'm so happy about this test. I'm going home very happy, but I'm going home calm, and I know the weekend will be different and we have to be ready in the weekend.”

Asked whether this was the perfect test, Dovizioso said, “It seems to be. Seems to be. It's impossible to have everything perfect on the bike. I'm really happy for sure. Maybe it's the best test I've ever done. I'm really happy, but I know very well the characteristic of my bike, my riding style in Qatar.

“So I know very well the positive things and the reason we are fast, and the reason we weren't fast in some tracks. So like always, I have my feet on the ground, and after this important result in three days, we didn't fix our limit we had last year.

“We are in a better situation then we had last year, so I'm really happy about that, I'm really happy about the new parts they brought to the test, the way they worked during the winter, but the season is a different story.

“I'm very happy, but I know very well how strong the competitors are, and today a lot of riders became very fast, also in the pace, which they weren't yesterday.

“So day by day, everything can change, and like I said before, the race weekend is completely different to the test, and can be more positive and more negative. Anything can happen.

“Also [Danilo] Petrucci is there. Today he did a good pace, a good simulation. But like I said before, a lot of riders became fast in three days, so in that way, it's not too important, but in another way, I think a lot of riders arrive in the weekend with good confidence, so anything can happen.”

One of this winter’s aims was for Ducati to cure those age-old turning issues that had been a hindrance to any rider attempting to manoeuver a Desmosedici machine in recent years. Dovizioso admits it is still a work in progress, but feels the GP18 is “a little bit better” in this regard.

“Already last year we understood why and we knew why. We have to be stronger where we were not too strong. We are working on that, but that point is very, very difficult to fix, but I think we are a little bit better.”

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