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"If the race was tomorrow": Dovi & Marquez split by 0.043

The title rivals begin the Japanese GP close together at the top - but do they expect race day to be the same?

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) weren't so lonely at the top on the first day of action on Japan - they had Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) for close company - but the two men heading the standings and the timesheets makes a mouthwatering prospect at Motegi as conditions on race day could well replicate those of Friday. 16 points apart as of now, the first of the flyaways is gearing up to give us another stunning contest along the tightrope of the title fight. But, according to Marquez, there’s another name that may come into play: Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team).

“If the race was tomorrow,” says the reigning Champion, “the favourite would be Lorenzo. His rhythm is the best and he has nothing to lose.”

Marquez: "We need to check the electronics"

Nevertheless, the rider from Cervera is happy with his first day, despite a highside crash from which he escaped unharmed. “I’m happy with how it went, apart from the crash,” continued Marquez. “It’s always good to get off to a good start on the flyaways. With the crash, I was riding well and finding the lines until we put on the new tyre for the last run, then I lost the feeling a bit.” For Turn 4 – the scene of the incident - and similar points on track, the number 93 says there is work to be done on the electronics, to be “safer” and avoid a repeat on Sunday.

Dovizioso, who went fastest overall and topped FP2 after Marquez’ demolition of the opposition in the morning, was likewise positive – and found some relief in the good feeling he found once again in the wet, having struggled more at Misano in similar conditions.

Dovizioso: "A very good feeling from the beginning"

“We had some doubts after our last experience in the wet,” said the Italian. “But we have a good balance and the rear grip has returned to how we were used to before.” Also like Marquez, there’s something specific the five-time MotoGP™ winner will be working on going forward: “We’ve shown the rhythm,” affirms the fastest man of the day. “Now we have to work on tyre life.”

That has often been Dovizioso’s ace this season, with FP3 and FP4 now remaining before qualifying decides the grid – and both Marquez and ‘DesmoDovi’ seeming to have the upper hand over Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) at the Japanese GP so far, with the wet conditions proving more of a challenge for the blue machines.

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