Andrea Dovizioso defied a neck injury to claim his first ever front row start at his home Italian MotoGP, on what is his Mugello debut as a Ducati rider.

Dovizioso jumped up to third on his final lap, setting a best lap time 0.471s behind pole sitter Dani Pedrosa, who had earlier gestured at Dovizioso for following.

"It feels incredible to make it onto the first row at Mugello, especially as a Ducati rider! It was one of my goals, but I still can't believe it, particularly after yesterday's crash," said Dovi, who fell at the end of the damp Friday morning session.

"The Clinica Mobile and my physiotherapist did a really good job of making my neck feel better, which gave me the opportunity to push hard in qualifying. It still bothers me, but I can push at almost 100%, and because yesterday I didn't even know if I'd be able to race, I'm very happy.

"We worked really well this morning, improving the setup a little, and I was pretty fast this afternoon, but when the tyres wear a little our pace isn't good enough to fight for the podium. Anyway, we'll try to do our best to get a good result tomorrow for Ducati and all our fans."

Dovizioso's performance marked Ducati's first front row since Hector Barbera in last year's Italian event.

Meanwhile, grip problems limited team-mate Nicky Hayden to eighth-best, and the American will start from row three.

"Today didn't go as well as I had expected, and I'm not happy to be eighth," said Hayden. "I was almost a half-second faster in qualifying here last year, and I was also better in the test we did here a month ago. I haven't been able to get the grip I need to make the bike turn.

"Both ends are moving around a bit at the apex, and I'm getting pumping on the exit. The bike was improved for qualifying, but I still wasn't able to do a good enough lap to get on the first two rows. We just need to see where I can improve and try to do something better tomorrow."

Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro made it into the Q2 session for the first time, and the Italian will start the race from the tenth spot on the grid.

"I'm happy to have taken part in Q2, which seemed almost like a Saturday race!" smiled the Italian, who is riding the Desmosedici 'lab' bike. "However, I don't think I took advantage of the extra grip that the new tyre can give this bike in qualifying, like Dovizioso did.

"All in all, I'm quite pleased to have been pretty fast and consistent in all the sessions. That means that the new bike is starting to improve, and that we've taken a step forward from Jerez."


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