Ducati has new owners committed to investing into its MotoGP program. It has new team and technical management. It has a new, race-winning rider joining a World Champion rider in its garages. And it has the same problem as the last two years - a slow bike.
Only two days of preseason testing have taken place at Sepang, but the GP13 machines of Nick Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso are well off the pace.
2006 World Champion Hayden has been the leading Ducati factory rider each of the first two days of testing at Sepang. He was 2.179 seconds behind the pace-setting factory Honda of Dani Pedrosa on Tuesday. Hayden sliced that gap to 1.561 seconds Wednesday, but multiply that gap by 20-plus laps, and Ducati is just as far behind Honda and Yamaha this season as it was in 2011 and 2012.
"Yesterday was two seconds off; today's a second and a half," Hayden said. "It would be great if we could take another half a second out of it tomorrow, but I don't know how easy that's going to be.
"It's still a bit frustrating to be so far away. Even further away than we ended last year, I guess. It's really tough on all the guys and me."
The satellite Tech 3 Yamahas and satellite Gresini Honda also are faster than both factory Ducatis.
"Tomorrow we've got a couple of little ideas that should help us," he said. "We've got some stuff to try with electronics, driveability and a few geometry setups. We don't really necessarily have anything major to test, nothing really new. We'll just test about with the stuff we've already got and see if we can make anything any better."
Speculation has climbed that Ducati will join Honda and Yamaha for a test in March at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, using the extra track time to accelerate development. But new team manager Paolo Ciabatti told Italian media this week in Sepang that a testing trip to the States is unlikely due to cost.