A slight mistake on his fastest lap cost Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso the chance of starting Sunday's season opening Qatar MotoGP from the front row.

The Italian, who had two front row starts last year, has looked in impressive form this weekend when running the soft tyre and in qualifying he missed out on the front row by just 0.047s.

Speaking after the session Dovizioso was delighted to have illustrated the progress made by Ducati, but left to wonder what might have been:

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"It was very hard to go under 1.55 because the first tyre I felt that I was on the limit and it was quite scary to get a really good lap time," commented Dovizioso. "But in the second lap I made a good time even with a small mistake at Turn 12 which I'm quite angry about because without it I could be second position at least.

"I made a really good lap time and in Turn 12 I braked late. The problem was I was too much on the left side and I wasn't able to keep the normal line so I went wide and I lost a bit of speed in the middle of the corner. We are speaking about one-tenth but that made the difference."

The qualifying session was one of the most competitive that MotoGP has seen in years but afterwards Dovizioso commented that it will be very difficult for the leading riders to maintain consistency tomorrow.

"The second row is really good for us, especially because the rhythm of ten or 12 riders is quite close. It was a strange weekend because there is 12 riders within four tenths but I think the race will be a little bit different because how you make the lap time will make the difference in 22 laps. I think that could be our negative point but this is normal, not because we didn't work in the right way and I am really happy about the speed we have."

When asked by Crash.net if he was surprised just how competitive the qualifying session was Dovizioso said:

"Yes, I expected the Factory class riders to be slower. But when they push really hard they could make a good lap time with our hard tyre, so I think this is reality more than what we have seen before in the weekend. We saw Marquez, Smith, Espargaro do mid '55s and I think this will be the pace in the race."

When asked if he felt that he could carry through the improvement in single lap pace into the 22 lap race Dovizioso admitted that it will be very difficult in tomorrow's race but the progress of the winter is clear.

"We have the same pace as the fastest riders so we've made a big improvement from last year but the bike still isn't turning and that makes the difference in the race. We can't change that but we have improved our speed because we can brake harder, enter the corner faster and have better acceleration. I am so happy about that but tomorrow will be very difficult."