Factory Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci struggled to hide their disappointment at the end of the opening 2020 MotoGP test at Sepang.

The pair were ranked sixth (Petrucci) and 14th (Dovizioso) on the ultra-close timesheets, but their biggest worry was race pace.

Both felt there is much work to do in terms of adapting to the 2020-spec Michelin rear tyre, Dovizioso having said on day two that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the extra cornering grip on offer is playing into the hands of Suzuki and Yamaha.

To try and accelerate their learning process, Dovizioso and Petrucci rode together during a 10-lap run on the final day, but their pace was behind the Suzukis, some Yamahas, the Honda of Marc Marquez and Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro:

"I think what we can see from the test is Maverick really strong in the simulation, Rins really comfortable. And we are not that far. So this is good," began Dovizioso. "We did our best lap with the hard tyre, like Jack. But still the confidence is not that good.

"I have a big question mark over the drop of the tyres because when you make two, three, four runs and you split the runs, making four or five laps [each time], it’s quite consistent. But when you make consecutive laps it’s completely different.

"It looks like more than the past. But the experience is just here in Malaysia with extreme conditions. So we will see."

Pressed on why the change of rear tyre is proving problematic, Dovizioso - who insisted his sore neck after a day two fall "wasn’t a big limit" - replied:

"First it’s to adapt to the change. The change is not that easy. That is the first point. Second, at the maximum angle you don’t have a lot of grip. But in the traction area you have a lot of grip. When you enter to the corners the rear is pushing in a different way the front compared to last year.

"That is the point that creates some limits and some problems. It’s difficult to manage because when the rear pushes the front you have better grip to do something. But when you enter it’s a bit worse.

"Still we are working on that. I think there is a margin. Or I hope, because the feeling is not that good. But this morning we improved a bit the feeling. That’s why I was able to make a good ten laps and especially a good lap time with the hard tyre."

Petrucci had left the Sepang test fastest - with an all-time unofficial lap record - as four Ducatis dominated the top of the timesheets one year ago. His start to 2020 was to be less rewarding.

"I'm worried because I'm not fully understanding the feeling and behaviour of the tyre," Petrucci said. "In the lap time I'm not so far from the lead, but one year ago I remember we were four Ducatis [at top] and I did a lap record - which still stands, a positive thing – but it's not the thing we are looking for and I think, for example, Maverick and Marc did completely another type of work.

"I think they are the two fastest riders, also Espargaro is very fast, Rins, Espargaro. There are a lot of riders able to ride more than ten laps in 1m 59 and we are struggling to keep this pace.

"But it's quite impressive that the first ten riders are in 0.3s and the first 18 riders in 0.8s. Very, very difficult to make the difference. For sure we say this every year, but this is the hardest championship in the world, and especially this year.

"So to make the difference is much more difficult. We are happy about the things we tried, not a lot about our race pace."

Commenting on the unique team effort by the Ducati riders during their long run, Petrucci explained:

"We worked together with Dovi like we did last year, especially during testing. I think we are the only factory to do it, but we are in the same opinion with Dovi that we need to do it. Because we understand many things.

"I'm faster in some areas of the circuit, he is faster in some other areas. He is better to manage the tyre, especially when there is not so much traction, I can learn a lot from him.

"And then for sure we push each other, but the lap time was still not the best. I think we miss two or three tenths that with this classification is quite a big gap. So still we need to improve our bike.

"Anyway, Qatar is another type of circuit, another type of temperature."

The Qatar test takes place from February 22-24, before the season-opening night race at the same Losail venue on March 8.

 

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