Andrea Dovizioso is confident he will be in a position to challenge the top three at Phillip Island this weekend if the Italian is able to gain more feel from the front end of his Yamaha M1.

The Italian star was fifth quickest in Australia during Friday's free practice as he prepares for the penultimate round of the MotoGP World Championship.

Dovizioso improved his pace by 0.5s in the afternoon session to finish 0.091s behind his Tech 3 Yamaha team-mate Cal Crutchlow but 1.4s behind Casey Stoner, who made a dominant start to the weekend on his Repsol Honda.

"It was quite cool and windy but the positive thing is that apart from a few minutes of rain this morning we were able to ride on a dry track to concentrate on improving the set-up of the bike," said Dovizioso, who achieved his best lap in a time of 1m 31.458s.

"We gained a lot of data today but it is clear we have to recover a bit of time to get closer to the top three.

"My feeling with the bike though is quite good but I would like to gain a bit more feeling from the front," he added.

"This is the main point in this track because there are a lot of fast and long corners with some very fast changes of direction, so you have to prepare the bike on the exit to have the right line.

"If you can do this quickly the lap time comes quite easy. If we can improve then I am very confident I can be closer to fighting for the podium on Sunday."