He may not boast the pace of the fastest at Sepang, but Andrea Dovizioso was content with his Friday speed, claiming the performance of his Ducati GP19 was “better than we expected” and that he is “in the group” of challengers for Sunday.

Dovizioso spent the majority of FP2 on a used rear tyre from the morning session to work on performance over race distance. He then fitted new rubber for a final time attack, gaining the second fastest time of the day, 0.63s back of Fabio Quartararo.

“It was quite difficult but in the way we expected,” Dovizioso said. “At the end our speed is better than what we expected in the second practice because we did a really good lap time with the used tyre from the morning.

“That was really important for us. So we are in the group – not the fastest, but we are in the group. I didn’t expect that. Positive, because we tried a different set-up in the afternoon and the set-up was quite big. We never tried it [before].

“Like always, there were positives and negatives but we got more positive things. And that was the reason why we were able to be fast with a used tyre. So I’m happy about that. At the moment it’s not enough to think about the victory. But we are closer than what I expected.

"[It's] Malaysia! It’s so hot. The tyres feel so soft. You have to ride really in a smooth way. Really there isn’t the grip front and rear. It’s not easy but it’s the things I like from Malaysia. With our bike it’s not easy to manage. But anyway, I’m pretty happy.”

Is Michelin’s soft front tyre an option for Sunday’s race? “Yes,” he said. “We wanted to work in that way because last year with the medium I was struggling a lot in the race. We wanted to see if the soft can give me something. It’s an option.

“We still don’t know if it’s better because we couldn’t compare in the afternoon. We didn’t have time and I wanted to keep the same tyre for the lap time and it worked. But it’s an option, for sure.”

Dovizioso was the only non-Yamaha in the top four. Considering Sepang’s two long straights preceded by low gear corners haven’t exposed the M1’s top speed disadvantage in the way some expected, was the Italian surprised by the M1’s performance?

“Also when I rode here in 2012 I was fast with Yamaha,” he pointed out. “I’m not surprised. I think they are balanced. In the way the bike is made they have a good balance in this track because the speed in the middle of the corners is good for them. It’s very important in this track because the grip is quite low front and rear.

“If you can make the speed in the middle of the corners, it’s good, especially in the afternoon. Their braking is quite good. I’m not surprised to see the Yamahas quite strong.”



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