LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Ducati can fight for the MotoGP title with both riders this year, works team manager Davide Tardozzi has said after Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo set the pace at the first pre-season test in Malaysia.
Italian Andrea Dovizioso was overall runner-up for Ducati last season but Lorenzo, a triple world champion, struggled and was only seventh in his first year with the team after nine seasons at Yamaha.
Lorenzo showed this week that he was back on form, however, by clocking the fastest ever lap on two wheels around Malaysia’s Sepang track to end the three-day test with the top time.
“We’re happy with things in our garage. I think we can be competitive for the championship this year, with both riders,” Tardozzi told the official motogp.com website on Friday.
“Both our (factory) riders and (Danilo) Petrucci (on a non-works Ducati) have had very positive comments. They really appreciate the power delivery and the new engine,” added the Italian.
“We tried to make the engine smoother and less aggressive, this is something the riders requested. During the winter we worked on that and it looks like we got the results.”
Lorenzo, who won all his MotoGP titles with Yamaha, said after the test ended on Tuesday that there was still plenty of room for improvement.
“I think we still have quite a big margin to arrive to our maximum potential,” said the Mallorcan. “This is a good sign because we finished first today and we still have some margin.
“This bike gives more confidence and it is more to my riding(style),” he added.
Dovizioso, who won in Malaysia last year, was fourth fastest over the three days with Honda’s four times world champion Marc Marquez only eighth.
The next test starts in Thailand on Feb. 16. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)