|Dovi scored Ducati’s first front row of the season
Andrea Dovizioso will start tomorrow’s French Grand Prix from third on the grid. This will be Ducati’s first front row start since Mugello last year with Hector Barbera on the Pramac Ducati.
The Ducati’s had been looking moderately strong all weekend, which one might expect given their performance at the circuit the past two years. But the difference this weekend is that especially today, it was dry. Not many would have predicted Nicky Hayden to end up 6th on combined times over the three free practice sessions. More to the point, few would have expected that qualifying performance from Dovizioso either as he finished FP3 in 8th, eight tenths off the pace.
Dovizioso was on the pace early on in Q2 and gave the top five hassle throughout the session. The Italian was particularly fast through the second sector and managed to capitalise on this come the final minute of the session, where he set his fastest lap of 1m 33.603s placing him ahead of the walking wounded Cal Crutchlow. Dovizioso sits just 4 tenths behind the leaders Lorenzo and Marquez, a much closer margin to the leader than any Ducati has been within for some time. The performance even surprised the Italian himself: “I’m pleased with the work we’ve done over the weekend because we’ve been consistently fast and we have the pace to do a good race—maybe not to finish on the podium but we’re much closer to the competition than we have been at other tracks. I was surprised to do a 1:33.6, as I didn’t think I’d be able to do that, but it was a beautiful feeling. Although I know it will be a difficult race, I still hope that it’ll be dry tomorrow; those are the conditions that we’ve practiced in and we’re pretty fast. Still, it shouldn’t be a big problem even if it rains, as it seems that our GP13 works well in the wet.”