At the end of Thursday afternoon's MotoGP practice session at Assen, fastest man Aleix Espargaro leant over and tried to touch the controls of Andrea Dovizioso's Ducati as they were waiting to perform a practice start.

"I don't know!" smiled Dovi, when asked what Espargaro was doing. "We are friends and he was just playing. Maybe he was surprised that we used the same button. It is not so easy to understand Aleix, but he is a funny guy!"

Dovizioso had finished the session in tenth place and 0.8s behind Espargaro's Open class Forward Yamaha.

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"I'm happy with the feeling of the bike compared to last year. The bike is more controllable. This is the positive, but the competitors are really fast and the position is too far back.

"Many riders are very fast. But the comparison to last year is more important than to our competitors. We know we are not fast enough to compete with them yet, but we are getting faster."

Asked if he thought he could race with the soft rear tyre, only available to the Open class and Ducati riders, the Italian stated:

"I think it would be difficult. Maybe if it is very cold. But with conditions like today, the drop on the right side of the tyre is very high."

Team-mate Cal Crutchlow was 13th fastest.