Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo expects further improvement on Saturday after the Spaniard finished second fastest on Friday at Aragon in Spain.

Lorenzo was only 0.138s behind Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez after the three-time premier class champion made ‘huge’ progress in FP2.

Assessing Marquez’s pace, Lorenzo said: “Well, this morning I thought the ones who said I was the clear favourite for this weekend made a mistake! But the improvement this afternoon was huge, I feel much better with more rubber on the track and riding better.

“I felt stronger, faster. I was one of the riders with a better pace and one of the fastest also with new tyres, even if I didn’t put a new front tyre that for sure will give me some extra tenths tomorrow.

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“It was very good lap times for Friday [1m 47.520s]. I think tomorrow we can go into the '46s in qualifying. The record is a '46.6s with different [Bridgestone] tyres, but looking at the lap times from Marc and myself, and without putting the new front tyre, I think with more tries - because we will have two tyres in qualifying - maybe it is possible to do a '46. For sure, not a '46 low! But '46.8-9 could be possible. Let's see.”

Lorenzo said his more relaxed demeanour recently is reflective of the progress he has made with the Ducati this year.

“I know more the bike. As a consequence I'm faster,” he said. “Maybe I'm older, so I'm more quiet now because of my age! Because you have more experience and you see things in a little bit different way. But not especially.

“At Yamaha I knew the bike perfectly. I was riding always very constant. So sometimes it was tough, but in general it was okay during the nine years. Here, I'm older, I have good feeling with the team. The bike now is working very well and I know the bike so the feeling is quite similar.”

Lorenzo – who will join Marquez at Honda in 2019 – said it was clear Honda had improved its engine, with Marquez at the top of the times even though the sixth gear straight is a plus for the Ducati riders.

“No, that means that they improved the engine. So that's bad for us and I guess it will be better for next year!” added Lorenzo, who felt better grip in the afternoon was the main reason for his improvement.

“The grip of the tarmac was not fantastic this morning. The track needed more rubber to gain grip, so I think the main improvement has been the grip. Also I changed a little bit the riding style, so I improved in some corners. But with better grip probably I felt more difference than the rest of the riders.”