Rivals weigh in on Ducati

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The speed of the Ducati GP15 in winter testing has raised more than a few eyebrows. With Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone having enjoyed a stellar pre-Qatar Grand Prix test the Italian manufacturer will start this weekend as a favourite for the win. Rival teams are all keen to deflect attention from themselves and place the glare of attention firmly onto the red machines.

Valentino Rossi, who endured a miserable two year stint with Ducati, admitted in the press conference that losing a day's testing to wet weather could cost the field in their attempts to close the gap to Ducati and Marc Marquez. The nine times champion is aiming for the podium this weekend however admits that the speed of Ducati is a clear concern:

"Unfortunately for everybody we miss one day," said Rossi. "Because we have other work to do, and try to do the simulation. Like this, it can be more a surprise. But from what we saw from the test here in Qatar, the two Ducatis are the two bikes closer to Marc, because they are very fast in one lap, but also about the rhythm. We have to work, because we want to try to stay with them and try to fight for the podium."

Rossi's teammate Jorge Lorenzo also offered his views on how competitive the season will be:

"Obviously, what we saw on the Qatar test, we saw a lot of riders very close," said Lorenzo. "We saw the Ducatis being stronger than last year, we made a big step. And also we were happy with the work of the Yamaha engineers, but obviously, the other brands didn't sleep during the winter, so they are also strong. But I am happy with the improvement we have made, especially on braking."

Marc Marquez also weighed in on the scrap with Ducati with the champion saying:

"Yes of course, Yamaha riders and my teammate really strong like every year," said Marquez. "But looks like Ducati did a big step, already in Malaysia but especially here last week. So this weekend they will be there, and will be a difficult fight with them. But I think it's good for championship, and it will be interesting to see more manufacturers at the front. Both Andreas, but especially Dovi, he has a lot of experience and he will be there. I think it will be nice to see."

Cal Crutchlow left Ducati over the winter and while he has once again said to have no regrets about leaving the manufacturer to sign for LCR Honda he also offered his views on the GP15.

"It's the same as I thought last year when I saw the design for it and how it was going to be made," said Crutchlow. "It’s special. There’s no doubt about that. It's fast in a straight line that’s for sure. With the combination of two fast riders, being fast in a straight line and turning a lot better I think we - a lot of guys - could be in trouble."

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Steve English

By Steve English