It was close but no cigar for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in Austria, as the Italian just missed out on pole by a tiny margin of 0.002 – and his teammate Jorge Lorenzo is only a tenth further back on polesitter Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) after qualifying. That sets us up for another stunner in Spielberg, so how do the two Ducati riders feel ahead of the race?
“I’m happy about the laptime we did in qualifying, the front row was the goal and first, second or third isn’t a big difference,” says Dovizioso, feeling more happier with the laptime than frustrated with the small gap. “I felt confident although the conditions were strange in FP4 – maybe without the rubber on the asphalt after the rain – and I didn’t feel so good or expect to do this laptime or be so competitive. But in the end the laptime came and I feel confident with the bike.”
So for ‘DesmoDovi’, does that confidence extend to race day? In a way, as he says he expects to fight for it. But there remain a few doubts: “We’re going into the race with a lot of question marks about the choice of the tyres, the strategy and what we have to manage. But I feel good, I think we’re the riders who can fight for the victory and the podium…but we’re very different so everything can happen during the race!”
Lorenzo also expected it to be the three fighting it out for pole, but feels he just lost out on the chance to really push for it after not fitting new rubber on the front…
“We all knew that the three of us would be close fighting for pole,” affirms five-time World Champion Lorenzo. “Probably at the end we had time to put in a new soft tyre which I always prefer, but there was a bit of a misunderstanding in the garage and we didn’t, that maybe stopped us fighting for pole a bit. But the important thing is to be on the front row, get a good start and have good pace. We maybe didn’t have the time we wanted but we had time to understand the tyres, setting and the pace, and I think we’re ready to fight till the end like in Brno.”
So will it be that which has been on the tip of most tongues since the paddock arrived in Spielberg – a Brno rematch? And will Lorenzo, who departed from his customary tactics of bolting at the start last time out, be trying that again from another front row?
“The strategy in Brno wasn’t so bad,” grins the Majorcan, who finished second and won his last lap duel against Marquez, “so it depends. I’ll study it a bit this afternoon and after Warm Up and decide the best for me…”
And in the orange corner? “The race will be like Brno,” affirms Marquez. See if it will from 14:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.