Andrea Dovizioso believes Ducati's 'speed is there' at Le Mans after he rode to fifth place on Friday's timesheets, but feels there is more to come should he improve his feelings with a new tyre.
Both Dovizioso and team-mate Andrea Iannone (second) placed inside the top six in FP2, a welcome change from the previous round in Jerez, which saw the Italian marquee struggle for competitive pace throughout.
Competing around the circuit at which he secured his last dry weather podium, Dovizioso stressed the need to improve the feel with the front of his machine as he bids to secure his sixth consecutive front row starting birth in France on Saturday.
“Today was quite good. I'm quite happy because the speed is there and this is important that we began the first day of the weekend competitive. That gives you the possibility to work on the details in a relaxed way toward the race. Lorenzo this afternoon did a small gap to everybody.
“I'm quite happy because this afternoon we tried the new tyre. The grip is a little bit better but in the last run I didn't have the perfect feeling on the front to make a really good lap time. We have tomorrow to work and we have a margin to improve.
“The positive things [with the new tyre] are very small. I improve one tenth so not so much. I didn't make a really good lap. The grip is a little bit more but I didn't have a really good feeling on the front when I put the tyre.
“Tomorrow we will see how much we can improve the set-up with that tyre. I think we have to work with that rear tyre but to improve the front feeling because the grip is that. Nobody can create more grip than what we have so we have to work on the set-up.”
The afternoon session was notable for many riders enduring nervy moments through the ultra-fast turn one, where a bump on the racing line caused a general unsettling of the machines. Hardly ideal at more than 180mph.
While Iannone opined that the new, less sophisticated electronics were to blame, Dovizioso felt the construction of Michelin's rear tyre was more the issue.
“I think it's just the rear tyre, that it's completely different. The casing of the tyre is made in a completely different way to last year. The slide and the reaction of the tyre is completely different.
“For example in the last run with the different tyre we had better grip but the movement was much more. When the rear tyre doesn't slide it created a movement of the front. I think it's more the characteristic of the tyre.
“It's not the best to make the angle at more than 300kph and start the movement and shaking. You don't have something on the asphalt to understand the braking point. Every time you brake at turn one you think, 'OK, I have to brake there.' But it's not like a normal brake where you know where to start. With the shaking it's even worse but it's the same for everybody so we have to try to manage.”