Andrea Dovizioso says Marc Marquez continues to produce “something special” in qualifying for his record-breaking Austrian MotoGP pole position but after securing his goal of the front row the Ducati rider anticipates a much closer battle in the race.

With Marquez claiming an historic 59th pole position, surpassing Mick Doohan’s record of 58 career poles, Dovizioso paid credit to the Repsol Honda rider’s qualifying feat as the Spaniard took pole at the Red Bull Ring by a comfortable 0.434s.

But with Ducati undefeated in Austria since the race’s return to the MotoGP calendar in 2016, including Dovizioso’s own victory in 2017, the Italian rider feels much more confident in race trim against Marquez.

“He was so fast, the temperature was so high and to make that lap time it was very difficult so for sure he did something special like he did many times,” Dovizioso said. “But fortunately over race pace we are a bit closer. So we will see.

“Our goal was to start on the first row and we did it so I am happy about that because we couldn’t find the feeling, it wasn’t good like in practice so I couldn’t make a low 1m 23s but at the end the first row is very important.

“We know Marc has a really good pace and he will really want to stay in front and make his own rhythm so we have to be ready.

“We worked really hard for the race and we are quite consistent but Marc was so fast in every practice and with every tyre. But we are there.

“I think we are ready to fight and there is still something where I can improve, that’s positive, so let’s see tomorrow’s conditions as we have the warm-up to work on that.”

Having seen former team-mate Jorge Lorenzo charge to victory in Austria 12 months ago for Ducati, Dovizioso is aware of the key areas of improvements he’s searching for but admits “it is not enough” yet. Last year Dovizioso finished in third place behind winner Lorenzo and over one second behind runner-up Marquez.

“We are still losing there [in sector three] and it is a point where I can be better so we are focusing on that, studying the data and also some other Ducati rides as every rider is different and you can find some positive things from the other riders,” he said.

“There is some margin which is positive so we are ready for tomorrow.”

Dovizioso trails Marquez at the top of the MotoGP standings by 63 points after the opening 10 rounds.



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