Rain forecasts hampering Dovizioso's Motegi victory bid
Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso says he needs more dry running at Motegi to mount a Japanese Grand Prix victory challenge, with forecasts of rain throwing a potential spanner in the works.
While both of Friday’s practice sessions took place in normal conditions, rain is expected to influence Saturday track action – whereas a return to dry running is then predicted for Sunday.
Dovizioso was the top Ducati in fourth, albeit over six tenths off Petronas Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo’s pace, in the combined classification on Friday, meaning that he is due to secure an automatic spot in Q2.
However, with the Italian keen on putting in more set-up work, his hopes for a dry race may now rest on the short Sunday warm-up session.
“In the afternoon unfortunately we couldn't work because the temperature dropped and the rear tyre didn't work, for everybody. The same tyre as the morning [medium rear] didn't work, we wanted to try the hard and it was even worse.
“[That’s] bad because we couldn't work, but the speed is there, we are in the [lead] group. Unfortunately, now most of the races we are a big group from the beginning with a good speed. I'm there but there are a lot of riders with a good speed.
“I think we have margin with the set-up, we didn't have time to try what we want. I hope to have a dry session, some dry sessions, to try what we believe, because we need that to really fight for the victory.”
Dovizioso’s factory teammate Danilo Petrucci was two tenths down on his compatriot in eighth, but was encouraged by the showing in light of his recent run of poor form.
“I could have done a little better in the last time attack, I made a couple of mistakes, but I think I'm competitive,” he said. “There are other riders at my level but I'm better than the recent times.
“I had a good feeling this morning. I don't know what the weather will be like, but I'm not afraid of the rain because we're already fine in the dry. Today I am positive and I haven't been positive for a long time.”
Ducati has been a potent force at Motegi in recent years, and Dovizioso says the layout is “a bit more in our side” compared to the preceding Thailand GP’s venue Buriram.
“The bike behaves well, we are competitive but we are not the only ones,” Petrucci added. “All four Yamaha bikes are fast and all Ducati bikes are fast. Then there's always Marquez.
“It's a stop-and-go track but there's no bike to dominate.”
Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont
Suzuki's 2020 engine makes "encouraging" practice debut
Rossi shelves Yamaha updates at Motegi