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The night undoubtedly belongs to Ducati

The night undoubtedly belongs to Ducati

Thirty-four days ago Andrea Dovizioso hadn’t even ridden Ducati’s new Desmosedici GP15 machine...

With nineteen years of experience reporting on MotoGP™ for Motorcycle News, Matthew Birt knows the championship inside-out. For the 2015 season he joins the team to bring you exclusive news and opinion from inside the paddock.

Thirty-four days ago Andrea Dovizioso hadn’t even ridden Ducati’s new Desmosedici GP15 machine.

Tonight in Qatar, he rode it to a stunning first pole position of 2015 to set-up what promises to be an exhilarating start to the MotoGP World championship.

Dovizioso’s faultless lap of 1.54.113 secured the Italian only his third premier class pole in 125 attempts.

And it was hardly a huge shock was it?

After only eight days on track, Dovizioso put the GP15 on top of the timesheets at the recent Losail International Circuit dress rehearsal. And since its first day on track in Malaysia last month it has looked every inch the competitive bike Ducati has been searching for since Casey Stoner dominated the inaugural 800cc World Championship back in 2007.

It’s true that the option to use the softer Bridgestone rear tyre for the frenetic 15-minute qualifying shootout is a crucial advantage for Ducati.

But the GP15 isn’t just a one-lap wonder that’s blindingly fast on soft rubber.

The earlier FP4 showed that Dovizioso has the speed over the longer race distance on harder tyres to give Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa who join him on the front plenty to ponder in Doha tonight.

Dovizioso was second in FP4 behind teammate Andrea Iannone, who also shown impressively consistent speed after bouncing back well from a heavy fall at turn two last night.

Question marks do remain. The bike has not yet been raced in anger and it will be something of an entry into the unknown when the race kicks off tomorrow evening.

Don’t forget last season's GP14 could qualify well and Dovizioso, Iannone and Cal Crutchlow scored 11 front row starts between them last year.

But in the race the Ducati would fade through a combination of understeer, fading grip and rider fatigue as the sheer effort to keep the bike on a fast pace took its toll. Those 11 front row starts were converted into just three podiums.

There is little doubt that it’s Dovizioso that’s best placed to help Ducati end an undefeated run by Honda and Yamaha that stretches back 89 races.

But let’s not forget Marquez. His race pace has been the fastest and most consistent throughout the weekend and despite Dovizioso’s brilliance, the reigning Champion looks the most likely recipient of the first 25-points of the season.

A lack of rear grip has put the skids on Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi’s challenge. Marquez sat behind Lorenzo for a spell in FP4 and clearly observed the rear grip issues Lorenzo was suffering.

Lorenzo said he was struggling on corner entry, too much wheelspin on corner exit and a surprising lack of speed on the straight. There’s been no talk of the podium or a victory challenge. His modest expectation is to finish top Yamaha.

But the night undoubtedly belonged to Ducati.

Tonight three Ducatis qualified inside the top five, with Yonny Hernandez springing the first and certainly not the last surprise of qualifying this season with an outstanding fifth on the grid.

Of all the concessions Ducati is allowed as a manufacturer without a win in the previous season, the softer option Bridgestone rear tyre is pivotal, particularly in qualifying.

If Ducati wins three dry races this season then soft tyre gets withdrawn.

Dovizioso has probably never wanted to lose something so much in his life!

MotoGP, 2015, COMMERCIAL BANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, Q2, Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team

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