Danilo Petrucci had next to no complaints after the first day of MotoGP free practice at Jerez, as the Italian led an impressive Ducati one-two in the scorching afternoon conditions.

Until a year ago, Jerez had never been a happy hunting ground for the Bologna factory. But Petrucci’s eye-catching performance here at last November’s test boded well. And on Friday he was pleased with his consistency.

“For sure the feeling is very good,” began the Italian, first and 0.097s clear of team-mate Andrea Dovizioso come the close of FP2. I’m happy about the feeling with the bike.

“I was talking before with my people and the bike the same like Austin, but I have a better feeling here. It’s good for me because I can ride the bike like I want. Even if I didn’t do a perfect lap on the last one – luckily I had a chance before the red flag – I’m quite happy.

“I have a very good pace and we have the chance this afternoon to try different types of tyre. We tried the hard and the medium and we’ve been fast.

“Tomorrow we have to focus more on the flying lap because this year my weak point was the qualifying. I didn’t qualify on the first two rows, and in Qatar and Argentina it was a big problem to fight for the podium.

“For tomorrow the target is the first two rows and I want to be there to fight for the podium on Sunday. It won’t be easy. I don’t know the real potential of Marquez and the Honda. I expect them very, very quick. But I look at myself and I’m happy.”

The most impressive aspect of Petrucci’s performance was his consistency in spite of the conditions. FP2 was held when track temperatures were measured at 46 degrees.

“Hot temperatures are not the best conditions for me," he said. "But during this year I worked a lot in this condition. As you know, one of the problem that affects me at the end of the race is the overheating of the tyre.

“But riding in a different way, which is helped by being thinner, and working a lot on the bike, works really, really good. I don’t know if for all the race we can be competitive like this.

“When the grip is even less at the end of the race, we have to be competitive even without the help of the rear tyre.

“The rear tyre in these long corners – turn three, four, five, seven, eight – where you have to be on the edge of the bike and stay on the throttle. This is very, very bad for the tyre temperature.

“But I work a lot on this. Even if I was not so good in braking, I was able to work in acceleration. It worked because I always struggled in hot condition. But during this winter I worked a lot on this and the first results are coming.”

Was he surprised by his speed? “At the end Ducati last year was not so bad. For sure the gap to Marquez was quite big.

“But we cannot follow the riding style of Honda, Suzuki or other brands because we have our strong points and we have to work on this and try to work on our weak point, which is the turning of the bike without brake.

“But we are really, really good in braking, we are good in acceleration. We have to work differently. As we showed this afternoon the bike is working good. But it’s only Friday. We have FP4, where we will have more reference to understand.”

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