Andrea Dovizioso is closer than ever to the MotoGP world championship lead after five rounds, since joining Ducati in 2013.

The Italian was 31 points from the top in 2017 and 49 adrift at this time last year, before going on to finish title runner-up to Marc Marquez on both occasions.

Dovizioso also finished as Marquez's closest rival at Le Mans on Sunday, a result that means he is just eight points adrift of the reigning champion.

But rather than sounding confident, Dovi seemed to be sounding the alarm.

Marquez has won three of the five races so far, compared to one for Dovizioso, and leads the standings despite a non-score. His RCV is also now a match for the Ducati on the straights.

As such, and despite their strongest start to a season together, Dovizioso seems to feel he and Ducati are in danger of losing touch with the Spaniard unless they can extract more performance from the GP19.

"We have to be happy about the 20 points and the situation in the championship. We are there and still everything is open," Dovizioso said. "But on the another side, I think we have to understand and analyse this weekend, because we have to find something.

"Marc and Honda at this moment are a little bit stronger than us. We need something more about the lap time, so we are able to manage better the tyres because today I was struggling.

"To finish second is good, but I was fighting with the bike, especially with the rear tyre. This is not good if you want to fight for the championship. At the end I was too slow. I couldn't keep the good pace we had until the middle of the race, so this is negative.

"Now we have to stay calm because we are very close, in this race and the championship. We have to understand where we have margin to improve.

"If we are able to improve a little bit we have a chance to fight. If you don't have a chance, you can just pray the other riders make a mistake.

"This is not the way to win the championship.

"To go to Mugello with three good results from Ducati here - second, third and fourth - is really positive and it can be a good track for us. But it won't decide the championship because there are a lot of points still. We have to find something."

Despite his concerns about overcoming Marquez for the title, Dovizioso is pleased that team orders were not used to prevent Danilo Petrucci from trying to pass him on Sunday.

Petrucci made several attempts to get ahead in the closing stages, most notably under braking for the first chicane, but Dovizioso was able to retaliate and hold off his countryman by 1.984s.

"If you are in the Formula 1 championship yes, but in our championship no, and especially not at the beginning of the season," Dovizioso said of team orders.

"It depends on which way you want to look at it. If you want to take the maximum [points] maybe it can be a good idea, but in our sport most of the time it’s not like this. I think that's good.

"Danilo is a strong rider. In the championship he’s in a good situation. You have to bring the maximum. I’m happy to have this kind of fight.

"He tried. It was difficult because I was pushing really hard. I was struggling with the tyre, but my lap time at the end was '32.8. It wasn’t too bad.

"But he didn’t try something crazy. This is not what we needed. I’m happy about that."

 

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