Fourth place for Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso after FP3 for the season-opening Qatar MotoGP has put the Italian in confident move for qualifying and the race.

Dovizioso has been consistently fast on the soft tyre, only available to the Open class and Ducati riders.

However the Italian also stressed that the speed and consistency he has shown on the medium compound tyre, which the majority of the field will race on Sunday, is the most encouraging thing for him.

"I'm really happy with the position but especially because my times on the hard tyre, that everyone will use in the race, we were very close to the fastest riders," said Dovizioso. "This is the key point and the reason that I'm happy.

"It'll be very difficult to keep this lap time for 22 laps and I think that this will be our limit, but I'm happy with the improvement that we made compared to last year. We are fast on both tyres and I think qualifying will be interesting."

While many have spoken about the advantages of being able to run the Ducati with four extra litres of fuel relative to the Factory Hondas and Yamahas, Dovizioso - who set the fastest top speed in FP3 - commented that the improvements seen are a result of changes to the bike by new Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'igna.

"We are really fast on the main straight because our engine improved from last year and it's not really the [extra] fuel. The fuel makes a little difference but it's so small because we have almost the same fuel so the improvement is the changes that Gigi made in the winter and not the new [Open] rules."

When asked by about the level of fuel that he expects to start the race with Dovizioso said that a decision had not been made, but that he expects to run with race fuel in FP4 to get an understanding of what to expect on the opening lap.

"We will analyse all the practice sessions to see how much extra fuel we will use. I hope that in FP4 we will start with the fuel that we will race with and I want to check how the bike will react [on full tanks] and to simulate the first part of the race."

Dovizioso also commented that while Ducati is allowed to run with 24 litres of fuel the fuel tank is not large enough for such a capacity, with 22-23 litres the maximum. However, unlike the other Open class competitors, Ducati is running its own factory software, which contains advanced fuel efficiency features.

Dovizioso was the second Ducati in the practice top four, with Pramac's Andrea Iannone using the soft tyre to set the second fastest lap time behind Forward Yamaha's Aleix Espargaro. Third quickest Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) was the top 20-litre rider.



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