Andrea Dovizioso put Ducati ahead of home manufacturers Honda and Yamaha during Friday practice for the Japanese MotoGP at Motegi.

Dovizioso may have used the special extra-soft rear tyre, not available to Ducati's factory rivals, to clinch the top spot.

However he was quick to point out that he had earlier led the session while using his harder rear tyre and was holding second place to Jorge Lorenzo prior to the late rubber changes.

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"I am very happy because, apart from my fastest lap which I set with a soft tyre, I also had a good pace with the medium option," said Dovizioso, who began the day with a competitive third in FP1. "Before the extra soft tyre we were second fastest - when everybody had the same tyres until the last five minutes - and I was able to make a similar lap time to the best pace.

"We immediately got off to a good start this morning with the set-up, both regarding the chassis and the electronics, and this enabled me to push hard right from the early laps. Today was a great day but tomorrow I'll have to try and shave off some more tenths from my lap time."

Dovizioso has taken two podiums and four front row starts so far this season. The Italian was again riding the newly introduced GP14.2 evolution bike, while departing team-mate Cal Crutchlow remains on the original GP14.

Crutchlow, who was 13th and tenth in the two sessions, said: "I'm not pleased with the result today but I am pleased with the speed. I thought we could have maybe been in the front five in that session but I got held up in my fast lap. I could have been a lot closer than what I was so I'm happy with this and it means we can work well for tomorrow.

"I had some problems in the session and didn't get out in the first ten minutes due to a problem with the brake. Now I'm looking to rest because I've not been feeling well at all today due to a bit of flu, so maybe tomorrow I can have a better performance."

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@ TalentFan

Thanks for the positive comments - appreciated.

Yes, agreed that Dorna has contributed to the current debacle. As an organisation they appear to have the best of intentions but then they also seem to frequently make decisions that have the exact opposite effect to that intended. CRT is a classic example.

CRT was established as a class to reduce costs and more importantly dependency on the major manufacturers. After two years Dorna then effectively ditched CRT and went with 'open' class which in reality is nothing more than satellite bikes supplied by the major factories.
So in effect Honda & Yamaha (& Ducati to some extent) have strengthened their grip on the premier class, not had it reduced.

The law of unintended consequences.

NineTimes: @ TalentFan

Still, Honda is struggling. They'll have to have rules changed in their favour otherwise they'll get caught by lesser teams. If Honda is that good, they why do they need rule change every year?[\blockquote]

Not quite sure how you can say Honda is struggling when they are about to win their second MotoGP championship in a row?

Whilst I'm no Honda fan, I can recognise that they have some of the best engineers in the world & plenty of them. So constant technical rule changes play into their hands because they have the resources to move further & faster than anybody else.
The 2007 / Ducati situation was a unique one. The 800 class had fuel restrictions that meant everyone else detuned their motors to last the distance. Ducati made the most powerful motor they could & went lean burn with electronic control. Result was Ducati blew everyone else away but by mid-season the Japanese were copying the approach & catching up fast.

Vilas46: Ducati... What Dorna Did to save Kawasaki and Suzuki? Did they speack about any Rule that would give them a boost only to stay in Motogp? I dont think so....[\blockquote]

Dorna did quite a lot to try & keep Suzuki & Kawasaki - engine concessions, testing concessions & additional funding. Despite that both opted to leave, simply because of their lack of success more than anything else. As for Ducati 'advantages', the open class rules were proposed by Dorna & then ammended / agreed by the manufacturers' association. The same rules were available for all & Ducati decided to go that route, just as any other manufacturer could have done. But when Honda saw that Ducati might pose a threat under those regulations they lobbied Dorna for changes & we had that ridiculous last-minute Factory2 class introduced to placate Honda.

@MotoMarc

I actually think Honda would be more inclined to pull out of the smaller classes than MotoGP to be honest.
In reality 99% of the brand equity developed by racing comes from the factory team - Repsol Honda & Marquez / Pedrosa.
Honda could just run the Repsol team and drop everything else and their brand image would be affected not at all.
But if Honda did pull out totally then I think Yamaha would do the same. Yamaha's mentality has always been to get one over their much bigger Japanese brother and without the competition their motivation would disappear. That's what happened when Honda pulled out the last time (& stayed out for 12 years) - within a season Yamaha announced they were exiting too. The following years of poorly funded identikit privateer TZ Yamahas trundling around were some of the most dire racing years I can recall.
Be careful what you wish for ...

NineTimes: @ CliffEdge

Yes, they are winning their 2nd title in a row! But how? and at what cost? Bridgestone & Dorna? last minute tyre change? open-class restrictions?[\blockquote]

Probably having the best bike & the best rider has something to do with it.

CONT The key to moving forward is to successively reduce the dependency on Honda and that means more manufacturers coming to the fore in all classes. It's good that Suzuki, Aprilia and KTM are coming back to the premier class but do they really have the commitment & resources to stay long-term? History says they don't but time will tell.
Finally although many on this site like to take a pop at Ducati (you only have to take a look at the typically uninformed Vilas48 comment immediately above to see what I mean) I believe Ducati is actually due huge credit. Ducati has been continuously active in MotoGP since 2003 and will be fielding 6 bikes in 2015 ... a real achievement & commitment considering they are a very small factory in comparison. It puts the 'efforts' of Suzuki, Kawasaki & others to shame.

Some folk go on as if Honda being the only game in town and this domination is a new thing?
Essentially the premier class in the modern era (1975 onwards) has ALWAYS been dominated by Honda and Yamaha. Suzuki have had a few championships during that time and Ducati only won because they interpreted a new set of rules in 2007 most effectively.
For the record, since 1975, the championship wins have been
Honda 16, Yamaha 16, Suzuki 6, Ducati 1.

TalentFan: @ CliffEdge

Given their expenditure and resources, actually your stats suggest to me that really Honda have under-delivered since '75. They really should have much better stats and a better return in terms of Titles than they have.[\blockquote]

I don't disagree with you TalentFan. Honda has always taken the approach of throwing massive resources at it to win and you wonder what they would have achieved if they had only spent at the average rate of other teams.Much less I suspect.
In terms of trying to fix it, I do think Dorna are trying to improve the situation with the introduction of control ECU's and various other restrictions but it is a delicate balancing act. If Honda was to pull out, that's 8 bikes gone from MotoGP, all motors from Moto2, and the only real competitor to KTM in Moto3 (I discount Mahindra). Some folk naively seem to think that Honda pulling out would be a good thing - in reality it would devastate GP racing in its current form.
CONT