Having struggled for the past two races, Andrea Dovizioso suspects the Ducati set-up knowledge that took him to 12 wins and MotoGP title runner-up over the past three seasons no longer works.

The meticulous Italian is reserving final judgement until analysing data from Sunday's Brno race, which saw Avintia's Johann Zarco put a 2019-spec Ducati on the podium, while Dovizioso finished in a distant eleventh (+16s).

But after also being off-pace at the previous Andalucia round, where he finished in sixth (+13s), Dovizioso is increasingly certain that the revised 2020 Michelin rear tyre requires a totally new style of set-up and that the 'old rules' no longer apply.

"The GP19 and GP20 are very similar. It’s too easy if it was just that," Dovizioso said, quashing suggestions last year's Ducati might just have been better-suited to the slippery and bumpy Brno track.

"The [new] rear tyre for sure pushes the front. And not just pushing; it works in a different way. I thought that a different [riding] style could improve my situation, but it wasn't like that. I need more help from the set-up.

"I think our limit is we followed what we did in the last three years because it worked, and it didn’t work [now].

"This race can help us a lot because it's the second race that another Ducati rider with a different setup, riding in a different way, was able to make a really good race."

To illustrate his point, Dovizioso - one of the strongest riders on the brakes - is now losing time in that area.

"I’m not the kind of rider to try to use the excuse, but if you check my data I always have the front locked [during braking]. I’m putting my bike on the limit at that point and I’m losing a tenth on every braking. This means that we have to go in a different way.

"I was always the best in the braking but when I compare with Pecco in Jerez and today the two laps I really watched Zarco, I was losing a lot on the braking. This is unacceptable.

"I hope we can understand something because in this moment we are slow in the exit where in the past we gained a little bit, and I’m not good in the braking. So with my situation, I’m far."

Previously, Dovizioso and his Ducati engineers knew what set-up changes to make, to create a certain outcome.

"In the past, 'when this happened, you have to do this'. This worked or that worked. But every time we have tried something in that way now, it didn’t work," said Dovizioso, now fourth in the world championship but already 28 points behind Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) and only 3 points ahead of Zarco.

"To have confirmation in a completely different track to Jerez and a different temperature is positive, because we don’t have the situation under control. It didn’t work as we thought.

"We have to study this race to confirm, but it looks like when Pecco was fast [at Jerez]  and when Zarco was fast today, their setup is a completely different way than what we think, because in the past we did the opposite things to improve that. And the way you had to ride is a bit different."

The two Ducati riders that excelled at the last two rounds are also the least experienced on the Desmosedici. Bagnaia, on course for a podium at Jerez until an engine issue, is starting his second season at Pramac while Zarco is in his first year on the Italian machine.

"Danilo, Jack and me have a lot of experience with this bike and we have more or less the same problem," Dovizioso said. "Pecco and Zarco have less experience, and I think they went in a different direction because they didn’t have experience to follow what it was good to do for the Ducati in the last three years.... But maybe with this tyre, the situation changed completely."

Factory team-mate Danilo Petrucci, who finished just behind Dovizioso in twelfth place, confirmed:

"We still don't understand why Johann is so fast at the moment. He does not spin the rear tyre compared to me, Dovi and Jack. I have to look at the data from the race, but for sure he's doing nothing really strange [in terms of riding style].

"I mean, in 2016 we had Casey Stoner's data and that was really different. Here we have all the Ducati riders' data and sincerely we are more-or-less the same.

"For sure today, for me, I had zero traction and when on a Ducati you have zero traction it means the bike didn't turn, didn't brake and doesn't accelerate in a good way.

"So we still don’t understand but it's not a matter only for me, I think no one expected Johann so fast. But for sure at least we have some data from a fast rider."

Dovizioso and Petrucci will next be on track during Friday practice at the Red Bull Ring, where Ducati has won every race since the circuit re-joined the MotoGP calendar in 2016.

 

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