Who would have thought Dovizioso’s win at Losail in 2019 would, as of now, remain Ducati’s latest victory at the Qatari track? And yet the 2021 races didn't exactly deliver the expected outcome.
A favourable track, with an endless straight on which to unleash the full power of the 2021 Desmosedici, a young line-up (Miller and Bagnaia both promoted from team Pramac and favourites for the race wins), and a team keen to write a new chapter of Ducati history, as it seeks a title it hasn’t won since 2007, despite securing the Constructor’s title last season.
The double at Losail
The reality after the opening races at Losail is quite different to what the Borgo Panigale manufacturer, the team, and the many fans presumably envisaged. And Dovizioso remains the last Ducatista to have won at the Qatari track, a damaging truth for a team that was defeated in both races, by the Yamahas of Viñales and Quartararo, despite having shown incredible potential.
A factory team that was expected to dominate both races and score the double, especially in light of the tests and practice sessions, but the squad was in fact left empty-handed, forced to play chase to team Pramac, a revelation so far this season.
Although Bagnaia scored pole and third place in the first Losail race, and also put in a solid performance yesterday (unlike Miller unfortunately), this is clearly not what Ducati expected, aware that it has an extremely high-performance bike but one that still suffers in terms of tyre wear in the later stages of the race, as we saw with Bagnaia and Martin.
Sunday’s race has also highlighted some rather worrying aspects for the factory team, or rather a very strong Pramac team, its rider Zarco currently leading the championship; a Miller who is less than lucid in certain situations (the battle with Mir a case in point); and Bagnaia’s generosity, a curse and a blessing.
The factory team needs to step it up a gear, starting at Portimao, if it wants to turn the page on this underwhelming season start. Otherwise Dovizioso will remain the touchstone, an insurmountable boulder for his successors.
Translated by Heather Watson