Come to close of FP4 and Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati appeared lost at sea but a battling display in MotoGP Q2 ensured the Italian will start Sunday’s MotoGP outing at Misano from the second row, where he can mount a top five challenge.

As team-mate Danilo Petrucci and Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller failed to qualify inside the top 15, it was left to Dovizioso to spare factory blushes. His late lap of 1m 33.038s was enough for sixth, 0.773s back of pole sitter Maverick Viñales.

And while Dovizioso acknowledged Viñales, Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez have superior pace, the 33-year old believes he is among four riders capable of fighting in the group behind.

Maintaining an air of calm was key to his weeekend turnaround, he said. Still he is struggling with new tyres, but his words suggested he does not think a place on tomorrow’s podium is beyond him.

“Unfortunately we expected this after the test,” said the Italian. “So it's not news. I think we worked in a really good way, because we stayed really calm from the beginning, we knew we had to recover a big gap and step-by-step every setup was better, and I'm really happy about the work of my group.

“Every practice the gap was big, but we worked on the details and that worked for the pace. We are closer than the first practice, and also in the qualifying at the end I did a really good lap time.

“Because we are struggling a lot with the new tyres. I'm happy about the lap time I did, and starting from the second row was the maximum we can get. So I'm completely happy about that.

“When you don't have a chance to fight for the victory or the pole position, you need a target, and our target was to be in the second row. So pretty happy about that, the gap on the race became a bit smaller.

“We don't have the same speed as the first three riders, but we are not too far, and we are a group of seven riders with similar pace. So we need a good start and we will see.

“The race is very long because there are a lot of laps. We will see. And also the tire choice is not fixed. Pretty happy about the work we did, but we knew the situation before the weekend.”

Asked if his high-speed Silverstone crash has had any effect on his weekend to date, Dovizioso dismissed the claim, saying, “Not at all. And I think I was pretty good if we look at Ducati riders.

“So I think we did the maximum. I can understand everybody expected a lot from Ducati, because in the last two years, we always fought for the victory, but there is a technical reason, because sometimes we are strong, sometimes not, and it's quite clear the reason why.

“We are not in the situation like five years ago where we still have to understand why and which point exactly we have to improve and which way. We are not at that point, it's quite clear what happened, and we are trying to use the maximum of the package.”

Having won at this track a year ago and scored a fine podium in 2017, Ducati’s contingent of GP19s have struggled to maintain that competitive edge around the track which features drastically reduced grip this year.

“We were surprised about the grip, but we knew that because the Superbike race was after the change and they were 1.5 seconds slower,” Dovizioso said. “So they said to us the grip is less because they had to do that change, and when we did the test, this was the reality.

“But I think that affected our bike more than the other bikes, I think. Because you can easily see all the Ducatis are in a group, and the other bikes are in a different group.”

And his opinion on tomorrow’s challengers? “I think Maverick, Quartararo, and Marc have something more. But also [Franco] Morbidelli, Valentino [Rossi], and [Alex] Rins are very, very close, and we are there with them.”



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