Andrea Dovizioso feels his worst qualifying performance of the season is not a fair reflection of he and Ducati’s potential and a podium finish in Sunday’s 27-lap MotoGP race remains the target.

But achieving a top three at Phillip Island will be a serious challenge as Dovizioso continues to battle with Ducati’s deficiencies through the Australian track’s fast changes of direction.

“In this first run I didn’t make a good lap time and I exited quite early in the second run to make the lap time immediately but it started to rain immediately,” he said of Saturday’s qualifying.

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“I couldn’t try to improve my lap time. Ninth is not our position but we are struggling a little bit. We are faster than last year. When we make the pace the speed is not too bad. It’s not like the fastest, but we’re not too far.

“So it’s better than last year but still our DNA remains. We are struggling, especially when the wind becomes very strong like today. In the middle of the corner it’s very difficult.

“It was important to race here after a lot of good results because this is the confirmation of where we can improve. Anyway, we have to wait for the race. It will be a really important test.

“The middle of the corner is the point [to improve]. Nothing new. This is our point. Also in all the other tracks where we have a good speed, in the middle of the corner, we’re struggling. It’s the negative point of our bike.

“But in some other parts we have an advantage. If you ride it in the right way with the Ducati you can be very strong, and you can compete for the race, for the victory. But when you go to this kind of track when you have to keep the angle we are struggling. The strong wind, like today, it was even worse.

“If the wind is less we can be more competitive I think. Our speed is not too bad. I don’t think we can think about the victory. I know it’s difficult but we have to think about and we want to think about the podium.”

Were the turning issues with his machine the reason for his third row qualifying place? “It was the rain,” he said. “The wind for everybody from this morning, in both practices. But the rain was very easy to make a mistake. There was a light rain in every corner.

“But the asphalt stayed dry but you couldn’t know into the next corner whether it was dry enough. You can look at the flags but the people have the flags, they decide like this [clicks fingers]. The risk, it was too much for me to really push like this. In the second run I couldn’t improve my lap time.”

On whether he was still reeling from the outcome of the championship, he added, “We are second in the championship but we couldn’t really fight for it. In Japan remains still four races, so the championship was gone, it was over. That was our mind and we race from the middle of the season to now to develop the bike and win as much as we can. We want to be ready for next year.

“Marc this year rode in a better way than last year. His bike was a bit better than the acceleration than last year. He was able to manage every situation. But we became stronger and stronger and we were able to fight for the victory from Brno to Japan. We have to be happy about that. It was not enough, but we have to be happy.”

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