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Marquez vs Dovi: Sunday set up for a showdown

The reigning Champion starts ahead, but he believes Dovizioso has the better race pace…

“The most dangerous one is Dovi,” says Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as he prepares to begin his title defence from second in Qatar. Because despite Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) missing out on the front row, the Italian is still Marquez’ pick for the win.

Marquez: "Dovi is the most threatening"

“The most dangerous one is Dovi, he’s very fast and consistent here,” expands the rider from Cervera. “Danilo also has good pace, so it will be a tough race. Everybody is very equal…”

That’s Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), who has shown incredible pace all weekend and followed it up with a front row start. But pressed on whether he agrees with Marquez on race pace, Dovizioso wouldn’t be drawn.

“For sure Marquez will be at the front,” the 2017 Championship runner up smiles, “but for the 22 laps I’m not sure who will be there…and it’s the same for the other riders.”

Riders discuss Saturday at the #QatarGP

The 22 lap race distance is ‘DesmoDovi’’s question mark. He’s confident about his pace, knows what went wrong in qualifying, but isn’t sure who could be up there facing him down in the first fight of the year.

“I have a good feeling and in FP4 we confirmed the speed but it’s difficult to understand our competitors’ pace over 22 laps,” adds the Italian. “In qualifying I didn’t make a good lap time because a lot of riders slowed down, I didn’t prepare for the last lap and didn’t finish it. Anyway, the second row is OK. We have a good feeling for the race but we don’t know how it will be tomorrow with the conditions because today it was very windy and it’s not so easy to ride the bike like this…”

After coming close in recent seasons, can Dovizioso start the season with a win in Losail this year? Find out on Sunday from 19:00 local time (GMT +3).