Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso says Sunday’s first ever MotoGP race in Thailand will be a war of attrition.

Dovizioso qualified on the front row in third place behind pole man Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi.

The Italian rider is happy with the progress he has made through free practice and qualifying, but Dovizioso says Sunday’s race will be different proposition, when tyre preservation will be the key feature in the hot temperatures at the Chang International Circuit.

“I’m happy because from the first practice to now, we improve my feeling on the bike. We were fast, but Marc was faster, but today maybe we have a little bit more speed, but this will not affect the race,” he said.

“The race is a different story, you have to ride in a different way because you have to ride 27 laps and save the tyre, so let’s see because nobody races this track and nobody can know how the tyres will be for 27 laps.

“The drop is quite big for everybody I think, but overall the feeling is better and we did the first row, which is very important, so I’m really happy in the way we work during the weekend.”

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In addition to Marquez, Dovizioso expects Yamaha riders Rossi and Maverick Vinales to be in contention along with Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins.

“It is very difficult to know because a lot of riders have a very good pace, but like always making lap times is one thing but making that lap time in an intelligent way is a different story. It is difficult to know from the TV and the paper the details of that, but I can expect a lot of fast riders for the first half part of the race for sure,” Dovizioso said.

“I think the two Yamahas, the two Suzukis will be there, (Cal) Crutchlow I think has a very good pace, so I expect a big group.”

His team-mate, Jorge Lorenzo, has been ruled out of the race after sustaining a hairline fracture to his right wrist after a spill in free practice on Friday.

Dovizioso said: “I didn’t talk with him, I didn’t have any chance. When he crashed he was unlucky about his crash but he was lucky, because in the way he crashed he could be much worse. It is always bad because when you crash you can get hurt and it is a bad thing of our sport, so I can just give him good luck.”

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