Andrea Dovizioso expects to be in a group fighting behind the front-running pace of Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales at the Australian MotoGP but remains optimistic as “everything is open”.

The Ducati rider clinched his first Phillip Island rostrum riding for the Italian manufacturer 12 months ago with third place and is hopeful of repeating the feat this weekend as he closes in on second place in the MotoGP riders’ world championship.

Dovizioso, who ended FP2 in second place on the timesheet, has planted the fastest tag on both newly crowned MotoGP world champion Marquez and Yamaha’s Vinales following Friday practice which saw one wet session and one dry session.

The Italian is content with his pace in low grip conditions at Phillip Island after struggling for speed with a full fuel tank and in higher grip at the Japanese round last time out.

“At the moment I think Marc and Maverick have a really different pace but after them we are in a group which I think is good because we are there and still everything is possible,” Dovizioso said. “We were able to make a good lap time at the end, I used two Soft tyres because I really needed to be in the top 10 as it looks like tomorrow will be wet.

“There is a big chance so I am happy. The lap time came along and that is good as it is not easy as the grip is low like always here so it is very difficult to stop the bike and to turn the bike.

“I am not that relaxed on the bike but it is like always so it is a good start, not bad but nothing special so we will see.

“I have to follow some other bikes to understand these details also because the speed is one story but to be consistent for 27 laps is a different story and in practice it is almost impossible to try that. Still, everything is open but we are second so this is really positive.”

Dovizioso is also eager to try out the Hard Michelin rear tyre if conditions stay dry to allow him to use it having seen his rivals impress on the compound while he stuck with the Medium and Soft during FP2. The weather forecast continues to point towards intermittent rain for the rest of the weekend.

“The Medium looks the worst which was the one I used,” he said. “Everybody compared the Hard which was much better so this is positive because my pace on the first two runs wasn’t the best.

“I don’t know how much is the difference so it looks like without hot temperatures the Hard will be a good tyre, or the Soft, but we don’t know if the Soft can last the race.”