Andrea Dovizioso believes he and Ducati are in the perfect moment to attack the manufacturer’s bogey MotoGP track to assess just how strong the GP18 is, providing the chance to “go into the winter with some clear ideas” regarding fine-tuning development.

Last season’s Australian Grand Prix was an unmitigated disaster for the Italian factory as not one of its eight riders broached the top ten. Dovizioso’s title hopes suffered a critical blow as he finished 13th, losing 22 points to rival Marc Marquez in the process.

But recent evidence has suggested Ducati’s GP18 can challenge for wins at nearly track in every condition. Phillip Island’s long, open curves that place emphasis on flowing lines and high corner speeds, rather than acceleration and late braking prowess will surely be the true acid test.

“I'm so happy to make this race now,” said Dovizioso, now an insurmountable 102 points back of Marquez in this year’s title race. “From Brno, we always fight for the victory. So this means that we improve our speed.

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“This is the best moment to make this test, because it will be very important to have the maximum feedback we can have here to go into the winter with some clear idea if we can improve where we are still not the strongest.”

“Phillip Island is Phillip Island. It's difficult. It's difficult for many reasons: the characteristic of the track, for me, for the bike; the weather, the weather and the wind affect a lot every practice, and the race. So it's a different kind of weekend.

“It's very hard to be fast when you need to be. Because here, to be fast, you have to be very fast in the middle of the corner, it's not about aggression, hard braking, being precise on the braking. It's not like this. It's a completely different story. But for sure our goal is to make the podium.”

And Dovizioso doesn’t just feel this weekend is a test for Ducati’s hardware. A fine fourth place in 2016 aside, he has struggled to replicate his best form around the wide, open seaside swoops in recent years. The 17th round of the year will challenge the improvements to his own riding style, witnessed over the past two-and-a-half seasons.

"Like I said before, I think it's not the best for me, and it's not the best for the bike. For sure the characteristic of the bike is not to make the speed in the fast corner. But also my style, I can use my best potential when I have to brake hard and come back. This is not the case.

“As a rider, I'm always trying to improve. It's not just about, the limit is the bike. There is always a chance, a margin to make something better. So I'm focused on that.

“It's always important to approach the practice in the right way about the mental side, but the position on the bike makes the difference, and how you approach the wind makes a big difference, but I'm working every time on that.

“Like Marc did. Marc won seven titles, and he's still trying to improve. It's normal. A champion always tries to improve. I think the riders who think, 'I'm the best, I'm perfect everywhere', will not win a lot in his career.

“So also if I'm not winning a lot like Marc, the approach is the same. Because you have to be very severe on what you are not doing in the best way. Always. Doesn't matter the result at the end of the championship. It's the way to analyse, understand, and try to improve.”

The Italian dismissed the possibility of any lingering after-effects caused by fronting up to Marquez in three consecutive races and coming off second best each time. The fact he was there, fighting until the end of the races at Aragon, the Chang International Circuit and Motegi, shows how far he and Ducati have come.

“No [it won’t affect me],” he said. “I feel really good this year. Because when you are there every race fighting for the victory, also if you are not able to win, it makes a big difference, also in MotoGP.

“So I think I'm in the best situation after Marc. I think we still have to improve something from the bike, from me, but we are very, very, very close. So I'm pretty confident about that.”