Andrea Dovizioso says Ducati will concentrate on improving its tyre wear ahead of the Dutch MotoGP having seen it as “the decisive factor” in last year’s race after feeling content with his speed following Friday practice at Assen.

The Italian rider is aiming to claw back at the 37-point gap which has grown between himself and MotoGP world championship leader Marc Marquez following the Catalan round where he was accidentally taken out by Jorge Lorenzo on the second lap.

With Dovizioso surging from 13th place in FP1 to fourth place with a fastest lap set early in FP2, the Ducati rider is confident of his outright pace at Assen and will focus on his tyre consumption ahead of the race having felt it was a key factor in last year’s encounter.

12 months ago a seven-rider battle for the lead developed at Assen before Marquez stormed clear with two laps to go to take victory. With conditions forecast to increase temperatures this weekend, Dovizioso sees tyre life as the area needing most attention following Friday practice.

“We’ve started off on the right foot but it’s still early to make any predictions,” Dovizioso said. “Tyre wear proved to be the decisive factor last year, and we'll focus on that. We’re competitive, but we need to make further improvements.

“I’m quite satisfied with this opening day because we have made some small improvements compared with 2018, even though we were competitive and stayed constantly at the front also then.

“We’re fast and, despite losing some ground in changes of direction and in the fast corners, we can still post quick lap times.”

Dovizioso was the long-time leader in FP2 during the long runs before failing to improve on his outright fastest lap late on which shuffled him down the order to fourth below timesheet-topper Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha), Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) and his Ducati team-mate Danilo Petrucci.