Marc Marquez labelled him the man to beat on Friday. And Andrea Dovizioso didn’t say much to suggest he wasn’t entering MotoGP qualifying in good shape after a strong opening to the Czech Grand Prix.

Due to track conditions and a drop in rear tyre performance, the Italian believes managing rubber across Sunday’s 21-lap race will be key to a fine result. His speed with used tyres at the start of FP2 “wasn’t bad” in his own words.

Friday was a day when Dovizioso tried Ducati’s new aerodynamic fairing, but was unable to draw any conclusions as he tested a number of new components. With rain forecast for Saturday, time was of the essence on day one.

Even still, the Italian’s mood was upbeat after he posted the fourth fastest time in FP2, 0.269s off late pace setter Fabio Quartararo.

“We confirmed in this kind of track our bike works better,” said Dovizioso. “We are fighting with the fastest riders [but] that doesn’t mean we can fight for the victory. We don’t know because it’s too early.

“There are a lot of riders with a really good speed. But the track is difficult, there are a lot of bumps, and most of the riders are struggling. My feeling was quite good from the beginning.

“I’m quite happy about that. But we have to continue to work because the drop of the rear tyre is really high like every year. The speed is one story and to be consistent for 21 laps is another.

“Let’s see tomorrow if we have a chance to work a bit more on the pace because already today we started in the afternoon with the used tyre from the morning. It was the best way to make some laps on the tyre and the speed wasn’t bad.”

On his testing schedule for the day, Dovizioso said, “I don’t have the answer unfortunately because tomorrow it looks like the weather will be wet so we tried a lot of things.

“Something on the set-up but we wanted to try the fairing because if tomorrow is wet we won’t be able to test the fairing before the race. We put a lot of things together and it’s not the best way to analyse the things together.

“But we tried a lot of things and I couldn’t make the comparison so I don’t have the answer. Also for us, because when you try something like that the change is not big and you need a comparison to understand the details. It looks good but I don’t have a clear answer.

“We want to try the new stuff. We don’t have a lot of time to test the new parts. We wanted to test that before the test. There was a chance and we did that. If the fairing is better we wanted to try it and use in the race as well.”

Speaking of the tyre situation for the weekend ahead, the 33-year old added, “It’s a bit strange. The drop on the rear is normal on this track because it’s very fast, wide, long and it’s normal to have that drop on the rear.

“The track is very, very difficult. You can approach the corners in a different way. You have a way to enter and a lot of way to brake. That affect a lot the work of the front tyre.

“For example I had a good feeling with the hard front and I did the lap time with the hard front, because I normally brake quite hard and am quite good to create temperature in the front tyre.

“It worked for me but it didn’t work for some other Ducati riders, who normally use the same front tyres as me. I think it’s about the way you ride and to create the right temperature on the front tyre, to push and make a lap time.

“I think it’s almost impossible to have a really good feeling here because it’s bumpy everywhere. Apart from the big movement on exit every time you brake, enter and touch the throttle there is always a small… it’s not a bump but it’s like this.

“That affects a lot the Michelin tyres and its characteristics. If you change the pressure on the tyres quite quickly you lose the grip. So it’s not easy to manage that. But if you adapt to ride the bike in that way you can have a bit of a better feeling than the competitors.”

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