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Dovizioso 'can fight for sixth', 'difficult' day for Hayden
14 September 2013 By Stephen English
Ninth place made Andrea Dovizioso the fastest Ducati rider in qualifying for his and the team's home round at Misano.
Despite the position, the Italian was quite pleased with his performance after lapping within a few tenths of fifth place Cal Crutchlow and Dovizioso feels he has a fighting chance of picking up positions in the race.
"Today was a positive day," said the Italian. "Our pace is better than the last few races and we can fight for a better position, but unfortunately I'm not very happy with my position on the grid because the start and the first three corners are very difficult here. But we worked well today and have a good pace.
“The first four riders have a different pace, like at other tracks, but the riders behind them are all at a similar pace to us. Bautista is a little faster but Bradl and Crutchlow are similar so I think that the maximum we can fight for is sixth position."
Sixth would be Ducati's best result since the first Italian round, at Mugello in June.
Another reason for Dovizioso to be positive is that a chance of rain during tomorrow's race, which could play to the strengths of the Ducati - Dovizioso claimed the team's best result of the year so far with fourth place in the wet French race.
Even so Dovizioso is not actively looking for rain.
"We need to see the weather too because it looks like there is a possibility of rain tomorrow. At Le Mans it was not completely wet but we made our best result so I've still a question about if at a different track it will be the same. I think that in the wet we could be competitive but in the wet it is so easy to make a mistake that I would prefer it to be dry."
Racing at home for Ducati was supposed to be an advantage, with the Italian manufacturer having tested extensively at Misano throughout the season, but instead the four Italian bikes will line-up ninth to twelfth on the grid.
Speaking after qualifying once place behind Dovizioso, team-mate Nicky Hayden explained his day.
"It was very difficult today, we tried some stuff in FP4 - weight distribution and suspension - that didn't really work and we went back to qualifying," said the 2006 world champion. "I was able to do a decent lap time but it was only good enough for tenth place.
“It's frustrating here in Italy to not be closer to the front but they went so fast today and I wasn't able to get into the '33s. I wanted the second row because here is a place where qualifying is probably the most critical session of the whole season because you need to through the first couple of corners clean, which is not so easy to do."
With Ducati having struggled for front end grip in recent years it was no surprise to once again see the team forced to use the softer compound tyre but Hayden confirmed after qualifying that the softer compound is still actually quite a hard compound:
"A lot of guys are using the soft front, for me the problem is front grip so with the hard I just can't make it work, so for me staying on the soft front for longer isn't strange. It's not really a soft compound anyway, it's actually the same as last year's hard compound. They saw that it was going to be sunny this year so the hard compound is two steps harder than last year so most guys are using the soft front."
Hayden will be taking part in his last Italian race as a factory Ducati rider. The American, to be replaced by Cal Crutchlow for 2014, is rumoured to be nearing an agreement to ride for Aspar Aprilia next season.