Ducati currently has access to the Open class soft rear tyre, but Cal Crutchlow will not be racing with it at Austin on Sunday - nor, it seems, for the rest of the season.

After qualifying as the top Desmosedici rider in seventh place, the Englishman said:

"We can't race with the soft tyre, but we shouldn't have to take advantage of using a softer tyre. So even if I could race it I probably wouldn't race it anyway.

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"We have to make the hard tyre work. Iannone [Pramac] did a 2m 4.0s with the harder tyre but he was towing the arse out of somebody as always. I think the lap time is not so bad with the hard tyre but you need more than just one lap.

"Our bike does not have enough grip to use the hard tyre, but I will only race the hard out of principle."

The harder (medium compound) Open tyre is the softer option tyre for the Honda and Yamaha Factory class teams.

Crutchlow, who lapped one-second from Marc Marquez's pole pace, added: "The understeer is a bit better today. We tried to change the balance of the bike a little, but in the braking zone I feel a little bit weaker because we made it more on its nose.

"Our bike is really light, weight wise. But it feels like you're driving a bus to change direction!"

Commenting on a small fall at the very end of qualifying, Crutchlow stated: "I came off at turn 11, spinning round in a circle at 28 k per hour for some reason! I'm not going to make excuses because I was pushing for the lap time."

Team-mate Dovizioso will start from tenth place and is expecting a tough physical challenge due to illness.

"Today I struggled a lot: physically I'm very weak because I'm taking antibiotics for my flu and my muscles feel pretty bad. It's not ideal at all to race with a high fever in MotoGP, especially at a track like Austin, because it drains you of all your energy.

"Tomorrow I'll try and do a good race: I'd say that with our pace in the early laps we can be quite close to the front, but we'll have to see if we can keep it up for the rest of the race."