But despite the gains from recent engine development a home victory is appears out of the reach of Desmosedici riders Cal Cructhlow and Andrea Dovizioso.
Both riders were thrilled by the top speed gains which have at least provided some improvements on Mugello’s notoriously fast main straight.
Crutchlow described the engine upgrade as “a rocket” while Dovizioso said the GP14 for Mugello is “unbelievably fast” which will be important for overtaking.
Cructhlow scored his best qualifying this season, sixth, with a time 0.389s off the pole lap by Honda star Marc Marquez.
Dovizioso qualified eighth on the second row. Young Italian Andrea Iannone was the fastest Ducati qualifier in second place, benefitting from the softer compound tire available to open-class bikes.
But race distance performance, tire degradation and handling finesse remain key issues that blistering top speeds will not overcome at the classic Mugello circuit.
“To be on the second row is a lot better than where we have been but the feeling I have with the bike after two laps is not very good,” Crutchlow said.
“It seems as soon as the tire wear starts the bike becomes very difficult to ride and it won’t stop or turn. When we had the new tire in qualifying it was much better.
“The position is good for qualifying and it is probably my best performance to date over one lap of the year.”
Crutchlow has some bold objectives for the race, based on a strong start, that may provide some brief glory at the front. If he gets the jump on Honda ace Marquez.
“It seems we can only ride the Ducati alone. When I do my qualifying I do it alone and if I try to follow anybody it is a disaster,” he said.
“So my plan is to lead the race. We need to learn to ride the bike because as I said in Le Mans it is difficult to do what the others do.
“I think by myself for one lap is not too bad but when we start to put a run together it seems more difficult for the Ducati. I have a positive feeling for tomorrow.”
Dovizioso was pleasantly surprised by the engine performance which is part of a year-long development program for next year’s GP15.
“I was really surprised because we used the new parts and in the first lap I was behind Lorenzo and it was nice to gain some tenths,” Dovizioso said.
“Honestly it is difficult to manage the jump (at the kink in the straight) before you brake, especially when you are close to overtake somebody.
“When you overtake you are on the right, so you need more angle and it is not easy in that part.
“It was certainly a good feeling to gain some top speed. The engine is just stronger. In most tracks we are not able to use full power on the exit so nothing changed in the acceleration.”
The Ducati bikes were consistently in the range of 212 to 215 mph in the speed trap.Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone, Cal Crutchlow, Ducati, MotoGP, Mugello