Andrea Dovizioso spent his first day on track as MotoGP title leader on top of the timesheets at the German Grand Prix.

The Ducati star set the pace courtesy of his dry lap time in FP1, 0.038s ahead of closest championship challenger Maverick Vinales (Yamaha), but had a tougher time on his way to seventh in the wet afternoon session.

"I'm really happy about first practice. We confirmed the speed in the dry. But in the wet we struggled like in Assen," Dovizioso said. "We didn't expect it and the strange thing is we are struggling with a different problem.

"In Assen we struggled with rear grip, here we struggled with the front grip. In the past this didn't happen, but it's not clear if it is something from the bike, or the tyres. Fortunately we were able to improve the situation and at the end of [FP2] I was fast, but the feeling still wasn't 100 percent like in the past."

Sachsenring has been resurfaced for the 2017 event and, due to a lack of any prior testing, Michelin are offering an extended four front and four rear slicks to chose from. Despite the limited dry time, Dovizioso was able to try three of the rear slicks.

"The difference is very small, we didn't expect this," he declared. "We couldn't put a lot of laps on the tyres, so we can't know [for sure], but the tyre wear was good. So at the moment the situation looks okay about the rear.

"The front this morning, like every time here, was on the limit. Because on the right it's difficult to create the correct temperature and at the end of practice there were a few crashes [at Turn 11].

"The layout of the track is too strange and it is impossible to arrive [at Turn 11] with the right temperature, on the right side of the tyre, with the wind and the [cool] temperature in the morning. So it's impossible to fix [turn 11].

"We didn't take a risk to use the medium tyre on the front today, but in a normal condition I think we will have to try to use it in the race."

Like his fellow riders, Dovizioso was full of praise for the new surface.

"Really nice. Every time when you go on a track with new asphalt it's a dream for every rider, because the track is completely flat and you are able to play with the bike and you are able to make more lines. Because you don't have to be careful about the bumps. The grip was good also, especially in the wet, I think it was more than four seconds faster than last year."

Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was twelfth fastest in FP1, 0.610s from Dovizioso.

By Peter McLaren

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