When Andrea Dovizioso finished the final pre-season test with the 15th fastest lap time, the general consensus was that he and Ducati were not showing their true speed.

But the Italian had also been forced to abandon a race simulation due to unexpected issues with the front tyre and, after qualifying second on the grid for Sunday's Qatar season opener, Dovizioso revealed Ducati went back to the drawing board for the race weekend.

"We finished the test with a really bad feeling with the bike," said Dovizioso, winner of last year's race. "We wanted to try a lot of things during the test in Malaysia and here, but at the end we understood that it doesn’t work at this track."

Although reluctant to say exactly what hadn't worked, Dovizioso hinted that changes made to help the Ducati turn, it's longstanding weakness, might have backfired: "Sometimes you can find something with a different balance and we tried to improve in the area where we have to be better. But in this track it didn't work."

As such, a new plan was drawn up after the test.

"We wanted to study a lot in the week before the race to understand the way. It was the right way, but you have to make it happen on the track and to change something big is difficult during a race weekend. But we worked in a relaxed way.

"I'm so happy with how we worked during practice because we improved a lot our speed and it's what you need to try to save tyre and be on the top in the race. Because a lot of riders are fast. But to be fast and save the tyres is a different story.

"So we will see tomorrow. The speed is there. At the end of practice we showed that. But Maverick, Marc and others have really good speed also. So we can't really know what will happen in the last ten laps, who will be in better shape.

"But I'm so happy about the first row. I really didn't expect to have that speed. I'm happy about the work we did and I'm happy with the way I approached the weekend because the speed wasn't there [a the test].

"I think I stayed calm, worked. We know very well each other and that helped a lot to be in this situation now."

Dovizioso will start between Yamaha's Maverick Vinales, on pole, and Honda's reigning champion Marc Marquez in third.

The Italian said he is yet to try the new Ducati aerodynamic parts on the front wheel and ahead of the rear wheel, "because we didn't have time, unfortunately. But maybe tomorrow I will try."

New team-mate Danilo Petrucci qualified in seventh place.



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