Andrea Dovizioso admitted he surprised even himself by taking the Ducati GP13 to the fifth place in practice on Friday night at Losail. The Italian was three tenths off the outright fastest time and enters qualifying on Saturday full of confidence as a result.
“I’m very happy with the position, but I’m especially pleased with the gap to the front. Fifth place is good, but the gap of three tenths is even better. I didn’t expect to be so close, especially because up until this session, we didn’t really have true parameters. In fact, this was the first faceoff with the soft tyre, and we can say that we were pretty close to the others when the tyre is new. We still have to see how things are in race configuration, and tomorrow before qualifying, we’ll decide if we should go ahead with the soft tyre.”
Like Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden earned himself an automatic spot in QP2 after ending practice in eighth but the American didn’t enjoy as smooth a ride as his new teammate.
“It certainly wasn’t easy tonight, as conditions were changing a lot. The wind was really strong in FP2, and there was a lot of sand on the track, but when things improved for FP3, I could push a bit harder. I kind of treated the session like qualifying, because it’s important to advance to QP2. My position isn’t great, but the gap to the front isn’t so bad. We want to make the bike more controllable in the wind and improve traction on corner entry, so if we can keep working in a good way, maybe we can do well in qualifying. It should be exciting.”