It wasn’t long ago that Casey Stoner was the only man who could tame a Ducati MotoGP bike. Stoner could take poles and win races while his teammate, and other Ducati pilots, languished near the back of the pack. Those days may be over.
A completely redesigned chassis (now, largely carbon fiber) and a “big bang” engine had Ducati leaving the final pre-season MotoGP test in Qatar with two riders in the top five (lap times) and three in the top ten. No one had more riders in the top five, and only Yamaha had more riders in the top ten quickest lap times. If you take it out a bit further, four of the eleven quickest riders were aboard Ducatis at Qatar- tying Yamaha, and besting every other manufacturer. Ducati’s Casey Stoner was quickest overall.
All things considered, the Yamaha riders are strongest again at the start of 2010, but Ducati could be the second strongest manufacturer this year. Although Pedrosa will surely get faster (he was only 13th quickest at Qatar), Honda and the other Japanese manufacturers have had mixed, inconsistant results going into the season.