Ducati's 2015 MotoGP bike is "stronger and more competitive" than the machines with which Casey Stoner won 23 grands prix and a championship between 2007 and '10, reckons Andrea Dovizioso.
Although Ducati's win-less streak now stretches back to Stoner's 2010 Australian GP triumph, the restructured team topped the final pre-season test in Qatar last week with Dovizioso and team-mate Andrea Iannone.
Asked by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport how the revitalised Ducati compared to Stoner's era, Dovizioso replied: "I believe nowadays we are stronger and more competitive.
"Back then Casey would dominate, but it was mostly down to himself making the difference, as in fact the second Ducati was nowhere near. That means the bike wasn't so competitive.
"Now, instead, the GP15 is competitive, it's basically normal and it works. Now it's up to us to work on the details to make the difference and win."
Despite his confidence and the Ducati's Qatar test pace, Dovizioso said a podium was his realistic aim for Losail as he expects the factory Hondas and Yamahas to be stronger than they were in the test.
"We go to Qatar to get on the podium," he said.
"We were quick in the tests, but I know those four rivals very well, I know the bikes they have, how they work in the tests and on race weekends.
"To get on the podium will be very difficult anyway."
Ducati currently benefits from several rules breaks that will be taken away should it begin winning races, but Dovizioso said the team is now quick enough to succeed even without the tyre compound and engine development allowances provided for 2014.
"Regardless what happens, it won't influence us," he said.
"We have built a competitive bike, so if those advantages are taken away from us, they won't make us go backwards."
Dovizioso still only has one MotoGP win to his name - from his 2009 British GP triumph for Honda - and hopes Ducati's recovery can boost his reputation too.
"When you are in a team that has won a lot, people automatically think your bike is a winner. That's stupid and wrong," he said.
"I think I was underrated for some years, when I got good results without winning.
"Yes, I've matured, I can manage certain situations better, but I'm not very different compared to the past. The truth, as usual, is in the middle."
Follow the MotoGP season-opener as it happens with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live from 4pm UK time on Sunday March 29
Translation by Michele Lostia
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