Andrea Dovizioso believes a minimum of four or five riders are in contention for a podium finish in Sunday's French MotoGP.
The Ducati rider, who will start from fifth on the grid, declared:
“I think we have a big chance of course. But during the practice you have to analyze very well the lap time, to try to understand which rider is on the limit with the lap times he did, or if he has some margin.
“For example, Valentino [Rossi, seventh], I think he has a big chance to fight for the second or first position tomorrow. From the first practice it wasn't like this. It's not always easy to understand the level of the competitors. But I believe that we are four, five riders minimum able to fight for the podium.
“So overall I'm quite happy, unfortunately Lorenzo did a step this afternoon. So at this moment, it looks like nobody has the pace to stay with him.”
A small mistake by Dovizioso deprived him of a few tenths of a second, which may have put him in front row contention with team-mate Andrea Iannone.
“Quite happy about today, because I think we improved the bike from yesterday practice by practice,” Dovizioso he said. “So we arrived in the qualifying with a good speed, we showed a good speed in the qualifying. Happy about that.
“Unfortunately on my fastest lap, I did a mistake in the last braking point. When I shift down the bike pushed a little bit and I was a little bit wide, so I lost one or two tenths. But to start in the second row in this track is not a problem, because the straight is long, so with our engine, if you don't make a mistake in the first part, we can gain some positions.”
Honda's Marc Marquez will start between pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo and Iannone on Sunday's front row.
By Peter McLaren