Marc Marquez's late Dutch MotoGP victory surge was in stark contrast to the fortunes of Ducati riders Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.

Between them, the red pair led across the start-finish line for 16 of the 26 laps yet were only fourth (Dovizioso) and seventh (Lorenzo) at the chequered flag.

Dovizioso lost places during a braking battle with Rossi, but insisted he was already struggling to keep pace. Marquez and Rossi were on the soft rear tyre, Dovizioso and Lorenzo the hard.

Andrea Dovizioso

Dovizioso had begun the Assen weekend saying the partnership between his riding style and the Desmosedici GP18 needed to be improved.

"I think after Mugello and Barcelona, we understood there is something on the bike and my riding style that doesn't work in the perfect way," he said. 

"It's small things… but the way you have to manage the tyres is different to last year. What we did last year, doesn't work in a perfect way [this year]."

By the end of the weekend, the Qatar winner felt progress had been made, but the final laps were an obvious weak point.

"This weekend we put the winglets on and we changed the setup a little bit and it looks like it's a bit better in the way that we have to manage the slide on corner entry, especially," Dovizioso said.

"But still we are not 100% happy, because in the last eight laps, I didn't have any more traction. That's the reason why I couldn't stay with Marc, and I couldn't fight for the podium. 

"That is the negative point of the weekend. 

"I did fourth because I put myself in the right position in the right moment, not because in the end we were fast enough to be fourth. 

"I'm happy in the way that I rode the bike in the race, but we have to try to improve a little bit the way to manage the rear tyre. 

"Because the difference from last year, is that when you lose the grip at the end of the race, we are completely far."

Dovizioso's conclusion is that the tyre has 'changed' since last season and they must now react to that.

"Last year we had a possibility to manage the consumption and be fast at the end of the race. This year, with this tyre, no.

"But this is the tyre, and this is the characteristic, and we have to try to adapt my style. But especially the bike to the tyre. 

"Because also in Qatar, where I won, I couldn't make the difference in the last three laps.

"This is the confirmation that the tyre is different.

"The difference is very small, but when you are on the limit, small things can be big things."

His assertion that 'the tyre is different' flies in the face of information from Michelin, which insists only compounds have changed since last year.

So why does Dovizioso think the tyres are different, given that the bikes themselves have changed since last year?

"I'm sure. Because there is a lot of data to understand this and it's quite clear."

After costly DNFs at Jerez, Le Mans and Catalunya, Dovizioso has now returned to the top Ducati in the world championship ranking - albeit in fifth place, 61 points from Marquez and 20 from runner-up Rossi heading into this weekend's Sachsenring round.

"Unfortunately, we didn't take a lot of points from Mugello and Barcelona, but I think it was an important to try to understand the future for us.

"So I'm really happy, I think we are in a better situation than last year.

"I believe with our bike, the balance is really good. But still we don't manage the tyre in a perfect way."

Lorenzo, winner at Mugello and Catalunya, is four-points behind Dovizioso in the world championship.