Andrea Dovizioso admits Ducati's resurgence in MotoGP pre-season testing has taken him by surprise.
The Italian marque was more than two seconds off the pace in the first test of the new year at Sepang, prompting a downbeat Nicky Hayden to admit the team had lost ground.
Ducati did at least trial a wide variety of upgrades, and while their benefit was not immediately apparent, the squad did close the gap to the frontrunners significantly in the final three days at Jerez.
Pramac rider Andrea Iannone and works counterpart Nicky Hayden both lapped within nine tenths of pacesetter Cal Crutchlow, with Dovizioso less than 0.2 seconds down the road.
"Unfortunately we didn't have much time, so it wasn't possible to learn anything regarding the race pace," Dovizioso said.
"Still, I didn't expect to leave Jerez just eight tenths from the leader. I'm surprised and pleased at the same time, as this helps us to realise that we're not so far from the others when we have a fresh tyre.
"The weather didn't allow us to do a race simulation, so we're not sure what to expect when the tyres are worn.
"We should be able to fight for a decent grid position in Qatar, and that's important, but we're not sure about the race."
Hayden agreed that Ducati had recovered ground, but cautioned that Jerez's short track length also played into the team's hands.
"We started winter testing in Malaysia with a bigger gap than we had hoped, but since then I feel like we've worked well and recovered some of the gap," he said.
"Part of that is down to this track being shorter though.
"I achieved my goal for the test, which was to be inside a second from the leader. There's still a lot of work to do, but everyone's really motivated for Qatar."
- Sports & Recreation
- Andrea Dovizioso
- Nicky Hayden