Valentino Rossi didn't underestimate the size of the challenge to win MotoGP races at Ducati.
But Ducati did underestimate the extent to which rivals Honda would improve in 2011, according to Rossi’s Aussie crew chief Jerry Burgess.
Rossi has struggled to make a major impact at Ducati since he quit Yamaha at the end of 2010 and has managed just one podium finish in the opening 10 races.
Honda meanwhile is enjoying its best season in the 800cc era and it has already won more races in 2011 after 10 rounds than it did in any other season since 2007.
Speaking to MCN, Burgess said: "I think we underestimated what sort of improvement the others could make. Casey has lifted the potential of all the riders on the Honda. Casey has clearly stood up as the fastest and the top rider out there. Barring misfortune he’s going to be very unlucky not to win the championship."
Burgess said Ducati's main difficulty surrounded understanding its innovative carbon fibre chassis concept.
Loris Capirossi told MCN recently that Ducati was already working on a radical future revamp, and he said requests had been submitted for the Desmosedici to feature a conventional aluminium frame.
Burgess added: "You never expect it to be easy and Ducati has gone out on a limb and built a bike that is quite different to everybody else’s in terms of the chassis. There is not a lot of experience and information out there and how it should it work, so we’re getting our head around a lot of that now and without anything from Ducati to compare it with, we’re sort of an in a neutral position. In the past they’ve gone down an avenue that has delivered inconsistent results but it has perhaps not been the ideal way of where it should be.
"I think if you looked at Ducati’s results in its earlier years in MotoGP, there were two guys in Loris and Troy (Bayliss) who were both capable of finishing in the top four. The bike was perhaps closer to the mark then that it is now in terms of relevance to the competition of the day. That was a bike to me that was more rideable. As time went on, somehow we’ve drifted away from the way how I like to go racing and make it so everybody can ride the bike and it is not rider specific."