Pramac Ducati boss Paolo Campinoti believes his team can be at the forefront of the "best of the rest" battle behind Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner in the 2010 MotoGP season, even though it has struggled in winter testing so far.
Although Pramac's Mika Kallio got up to eighth on the first day of the most recent test at Sepang, the Finn and teammate Aleix Espargaro ended the test near the foot of the times. But with the works Ducatis performing well at Sepang, Campinoti is optimistic things will be better in this week's Qatar test and beyond.
"The two official Ducati were in the top three and this has given me great confidence for this long season, but at the same time I am worried to see our motorbikes far from the top position," he said.
"I immediately organized a meeting with my riders after the Sepang test in order to understand what had happened. Both said that they had some problem that had undermined their work and I have seen in their eyes a great desire to prove their worth. These tests in Qatar will certainly be different. Outside of the three riders who currently seem to have a gap on the others – Rossi, Stoner and Lorenzo – behind them anything can really happen.
"I am also very confident after seeing the new Ducati on track. They worked very well this winter, giving us a very competitive motorbike."
Campinoti is determined that 2010 will be a better season for his squad than last year, when lead rider Kallio showed great promise but only managed 15th in the championship.
"Last year was perhaps one of the worst years of our MotoGP history even though we have won the Rookie of the Year title with Mika Kallio," he said. "This year, the Finnish rider will have to make the step forward that allows him to always fight among the top eight riders, while his teammate, the young Aleix Espargaro, can be easily near him considering his good results in the last races of the past season."