‘I’m very close’: Dovizioso upbeat as Marquez lights up timesheets

Championship leader Marc Marquez set the quickest time on his Honda during Friday’s two practice sessions for this weekend’s Austrian MotoGP, narrowly edging the Yamaha of Maverick Vinales.

The five-time world champion was 0.066 seconds faster than his fellow Spaniard with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, winner of this race in 2017, third quickest 0.117 secs slower than Marquez.

Dovizioso set his best time in the early session at the Red Bull Ring with the other two bettering their results in the afternoon, Marquez using a soft rear tyre to help push the pace.

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Dovizioso was on course for a really quick time, setting a red first sector, before sliding out of contention on turn three.

The 33-year-old Italian, who is still looking for his first championship, is 63 points behind the Marquez in the title race, the Spaniard having won six out of 10 races so far this season, including the last two in Germany and the Czech Republic.

“The pace is good, I’m happy. I’m very close to Marc so we are working in a good way,” said Dovizioso.

“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.”

Another Honda rider, Takaaki Nagakami, set the fourth best time with French rookie Fabio Quartararo fifth on his Yamaha ahead of Sunday’s race.

After solid early sessions, Valentino Rossi slipped outside the provisional automatic Q2 places later in the day and finished 11th overall.

“I was stuck in the traffic and I wasn’t able to improve,” admitted Rossi, a seven-time world champion in the elite division.

“As always, there are a lot of riders that are very fast, but it looks like we are more competitive compared to last year, because our pace is a bit better. I’m not in the top 10 by a small margin.” The final practice session takes place on Saturday morning with qualifying in the afternoon.

Free practice times: 1. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda): 1:23.916, 2. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) at 0.066, 3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 0.117, 4. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Honda) 0.155, 5. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 0.237, 6. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.392, 7. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 0.410, 8. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ducati) 0.414, 9. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda) 0.420, 10. Pol Espargaro (ESP/KTM) 0.502

Originally published as‘I’m very close’: Dovizioso upbeat as Marquez lights up timesheets

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