Andrea Dovizioso’s conviction that Ducati would be better placed to challenge Marc Marquez’s invincibility at the Sachsenring in 2018 than during previous years proved totally founded on Friday, after three GP18s occupied the top four places in MotoGP FP2.

The 32-year old Italian was fourth fastest on Friday afternoon at the German venue which was a ‘bogey’ track for Ducati’s machines in previous years, with team-mate Jorge Lorenzo first and Pramac runner Danilo Petrucci second.

Still, championship leader Marquez – fifth in FP2 after concentrating on race set-up - remains this weekend’s reference, according to Dovizioso, who feels managing the consumption of the rear tyre is a concern ahead of Sunday’s tiring 30-lap affair.

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“For sure from last year we are better,” said Dovizioso. “There are three Ducatis on top. This is confirmed and this is what I expected yesterday. I’m happy because I think we improved small things everywhere created a good base from the beginning, like in Assen or in Jerez where in the past we struggled.

“This year we are able to start with a better base. So we are closer to Marc. Last year he was completely in a different pace. This year we are a bit closer. I don’t know if we have a chance to fight with him because today he was fast, but especially consistent.

“Here that is very difficult because like the consumption of the rear tyre is so high – higher than last year. The speed is one story. To be fast for 30 laps with the rear tyre is a different tyre is a different story. So the practice shows one thing, but not everything. We have to keep our feet on the ground and especially for the race.

“I’m not happy 100 percent with the feeling we have with the bike. We tried a different set-up for the day. We found some positives but also some negatives so it’s not clear what we want in terms of direction tomorrow. Overall the pace is good. We have to be calm and take the right decision.”

In recent years, Dovizioso has pointed to the amount of time spent on the edge of the tyre, and the need to turn when at such an angle, as reasons behind Ducati’s recent difficulties.

On whether the GP18 has improved this deficiency, he said, “Still our turning, especially when the tyre drops, is not easy. It’s very difficult to turn fast enough. But like I said before, the base is a bit better so we’re able to make a good lap time.

“But the point is you have to be fast here and you can’t use the best potential of the tyre because you can’t finish the race. That is difficult. You can’t enter of exit with the full power. You can’t open where you want. You have to reduce the power, wait until you open the throttle and you have to do the lap time.”