Just over two tenths of a second separate Andrea Dovizioso from the top of the time sheets after the first rushes of action at a changeable Phillip Island today. The Italian – who still needs to confirm runner-up status in the 2018 championship – placed fourth in FP2 and took a large stride to erasing memories of his disappointing 13th position in the 2017 Australian fixture. 

The Italian’s three-point collection twelve months ago at the fast, popular and demanding track  represented his lowest classification of a personal-best MotoGP campaign. Phillip Island has been a tough circuit for the Ducati Factory team; the last time the Desmosedici finished on top of the podium was in the hands of Casey Stoner in 2010.  

“You know, every time you come here you have a few question marks…so until you ride you can’t really know,” the 32-year old said partly in reference to the fluctuating climate.” I’m happy. But we are not the fastest so we have to improve.” 

Dovizoso was quick to cite recent gains with the GP18 for the improved performance. “I think it was clear today where the bike was a little bit better so I’m happy,” he admitted. “Still the DNA is that one so we can’t ride in a different way and we can’t be faster in a different way. But we are a bit faster. It’s what we have to do and we have to continue to improve.” 

"Like always, Friday is not the reality of Sunday. So we have to wait. I can expect both Yamahas and Suzukis very strong, because it’s normal for the layout of the track. And for sure Marc, already he showed a good speed with a 1m 29.7s but he didn’t make the lap time. He was trying to make the pace. But for sure he was struggling today. We don’t know the reason.

"Tomorrow [we will know]. But like always we are a big group, competitive in the race. We have to make something a bit better to stay in the top three."

He warned against complacency however with Valentino Rossi and world champion Marc Marquez expected to make progress on Saturday and Andrea Iannone looking sharp on the Suzuki. “I don’t think it’s enough, what we showed today. The result of today is quite strange because Valentino and Marc weren’t strong like I expected but I can expect them very strong tomorrow and Sunday.”

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