Andrea Dovizioso has left Sepang bemused by Ducati’s clear drop in pace during the Malaysian MotoGP compared to both practice plus testing at the track and is eager to see if changes will be required to avoid the same fate in the future.

Going into the race he had won for the past two consecutive years, Dovizioso was confident of having the pace to challenge Marc Marquez and his front-running rivals at Sepang but found ‘something was wrong’ from the opening lap which restrained him to an underwhelming sixth place finish.

Despite not feeling any technical issues with his GP18, Dovizioso says he couldn’t rely on front-end stability both under braking and turning in the hotter race conditions compared to his previous triumphs at Sepang.

Dovizioso is unsure whether the problem was down to the hot and dry weather, having won both previous Malaysian races in the wet, or a technical issue which surfaced in the race.

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“Normally it is a good track for us but we never did a good race in the dry, everybody forgets that we did two victories in the wet,” Dovizioso said, with Danilo Petrucci also finishing in sixth as the top Ducati rider in the last dry Sepang race in 2015. “It is true in the practice, and in the winter test, our pace was really good so we don’t really know what happened in the race.

“Ducati never did a special result for a long time, in the dry here so I think there is a technical reason.

“The difference from practice was too big. I don’t want to say something clear on what happened because for me something was wrong, but I don’t know, maybe not but it is too early to know so we have to study it.

“I had to ride in a completely different way. For sure the conditions were a bit hotter than Friday and Saturday but the difference was too much.

We have to analyse, study and understand if there was something wrong or if it was our limit at this track in these conditions. In the race I couldn’t brake as the front didn’t work in the right way and it effected all different parts of the track with my riding style so we lost too much.”

Having felt capable of challenging for the victory or podium at every race since the end of the summer break, Dovizioso conceded it was an unpleasant surprise in ‘special’ conditions.

“From Brno we always fight for the victory or podium,” he said. “That we didn’t expect. But the conditions here are special as the race is completely different to practice.”

The Malaysian MotoGP race start time was moved forward by two hours on Saturday due to weather forecast fears pointing to heavy rain hitting the circuit in the mid-afternoon.

The race got underway at 13:00 local time, with air temperature at 34oC and ground temperature at 53oC – the hottest it had been all race weekend – while the forecast heavy rain failed to arrive at Sepang.

Dovizioso finished in sixth place and directly in front of fellow Ducati-riding quartet Alvaro Bautista (GP17), Jack Miller (GP17) and Danilo Petrucci (GP18).

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