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Ducati not worried by missed Qatar MotoGP wins

Ducati’s sporting director Paolo Ciabatti has insisted to Autosport that the Italian marque is not worried by its failure to win either of the Qatar MotoGP races.

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 season began with back-to-back races at the Losail International Circuit, where Ducati had won on MotoGP’s previous Qatar visits in 2019 and 2018.

Having topped pre-season testing outright with new factory signing Jack Miller, while it stormed to pole in both the Qatar and Doha GPs with factory rider Francesco Bagnaia and Pramac’s Jorge Martin, Ducati’s victory run at Losail was expected to continue.

But only Bagnaia from the factory squad achieved a podium in Qatar, while top Ducati honours went to Johann Zarco on the Pramac GP21 with a pair of seconds – which have put him four points clear in the standings.

Speaking in an interview with Autosport, Ciabatti brushed off suggestions Ducati would be worried about coming away from Qatar without a win, noting the difference in tyre characteristics in 2018/2019 compared to this year.

"One might think that Ducati didn't win on a favourable track,” Ciabatti said.

“But we took both pole positions, with a new circuit record, we took four of the six podium places and we lead the championship with Zarco.

Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing

Johann Zarco, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“Obviously I would have liked to have won at least one race, but if we are not happy, how can the other brands be?

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“Those who rely on the fact that Ducati won in Qatar in 2018 and 2019, with Dovizioso, don't take into account that the tyres used then had nothing to do with the current ones, which have to be managed.

“Already in the 2020 pre-season tests, [Andrea] Dovizioso was not as competitive as he had been before.

“So, we are very satisfied with the improvement we have made.”

Bagnaia set a new all-time Losail lap record of 1m52.772s to claim his maiden MotoGP pole in the opening round, while Ducati set a new top speed record after Zarco was clocked at 225.2mph during practice for the Qatar GP.

Miller emerged from the Qatar double-header with a pair of ninth-place finishes having had a tyre issue in the first round, while an arm pump problem hindered him in the Doha GP.

The Australian has since undergone surgery to correct this and is expected to be back in action next weekend in Portugal.

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