Italy's Andrea Dovizioso is confident he will be in a front-running position in the Dutch MotoGP at Assen on Saturday.

Yamaha Tech 3 ace Dovi was eighth fastest on the opening day of practice, but his time was just 0.391s behind Ben Spies at the top of the leaderboard, with less than half-a-second covering the top 11 riders.

He claimed his maiden rostrum result for Yamaha at Catalunya and was in contention for a podium finish at Silverstone before a crash ended his hopes.

Dovizioso plans to focus on improving the front-end stability of his YZR-M1 during Friday's final practice and qualifying sessions and believes he will climb the leaderboard positions ahead of Saturday's race.

"The characteristics of this track means the lap times look very close but if you look at the tyres some were using then it is easier to understand who is really fast for race pace," said Dovizioso, referring to the soft rear tyre used by many riders towards the end of the afternoon session.

"Obviously I would have liked to be higher up than eighth but I am not unhappy with my race pace.

"I am quite fast but I can improve the setting of the bike, particularly the front-end.

"I don't have the stability like normal and that means I don't have a comfortable feeling entering the corner and I can't be as aggressive as I'd like.

"But I am only 0.3s away from the fastest pace, so it is not such a big gap to close to the front and I am confident I will be higher up the order tomorrow."