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Despite losing out to Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) on Day 1 at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso has hailed Friday as “very good” for the Italian and his team.
Dovizioso set the pace in FP1 but failed to improve his time in the afternoon session, with a rare small tumble at Turn 3 at the end of FP2 seemingly putting a dampener on a fairly quiet day for Ducati as a whole. However, this isn’t the case. Upon reflection, Dovizioso is chuffed with how Friday has gone as he sits very close to Marquez in terms of race pace.
Dovizioso ready to race at the Red Bull Ring
“Really good because in the afternoon we tried a different setup and it worked better for the braking, which is so important for this track,” began Dovizioso. “The pace is good, I’m happy. I’m very close to Marc so we are working in a good way. Still, I hope we can have a margin in the middle of the corners but, in this moment, I feel good, the pace with a very used tyre is good. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake at Turn 3 and I couldn’t improve the lap time, but the speed is there.”
But is there anyone else who Dovi sees as a big threat after Friday’s running? “I think the competitors’ bikes have improved so we are closer and we are in a big group. That is good, but in this moment me and Marc are a bit on top of everybody.”
A Marquez vs Dovizioso Austria showdown Round 2, perhaps? Someone who will be hoping to mix it with the duo is fellow GP19 rider Jack Miller (Pramac Racing). The Australian sits as the second-fastest Ducati in sixth, less than four-tenths from P1.
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“I felt pretty good. I was able to do a heap of laps; the bike is working pretty well,” commented Miller. “The rhythm was there so I feel good leading into the race whether it’s wet or dry. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, hopefully some cooler conditions in the morning to improve the lap time a little, but it felt like a decent day - I didn’t make any big mistakes, never ran wide or anything.
“I made a step just to combat a little wheelie as it’s all about getting the bike out the corner as quick and as smooth as possible here. We made the bike a little longer, which felt better. We’ve got a strong base setup now for whatever weather comes.”
Miller had a new Ducati at his disposal in Brno and explains how it’s helping him in Austria, with the Pramac rider also pointing out where he needs to improve in order to close the gap to the leading contenders.
“With a couple of really flowing corners and also being a lot smoother than in Brno it seems to definitely help us,” said Miller about the chassis. “The bike seems really good in braking. Sector one seems to be my strongest point, from there on I’m struggling a little. We were fastest in sector one this afternoon and I’ve been pretty quick there all day. We’ve got a fresh engine for tomorrow and an even fresher one for the race so I should have some more top speed too.”
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Marquez may be on top, but Ducati certainly haven’t let the Honda man damage their fortress too much so far. Can Dovizioso, Miller or eighth fastest Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) stop Marquez from taking a third-straight Austria pole position on Saturday?