Ducati surges clear in Austria MotoGP practice

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Ducati put its straight-line speed advantage to good use by surging clear in the opening practice session for this weekend’s MotoGP race in Austria.

MotoGP returns to Austria for the first time since 1998 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, a track chiefly made up of stop-start corners and long straights.

Ducati entered the weekend tipped to end a victory drought dating back to the 2010 Australian Grand Prix given the strengths of the Desmosedici GP16 bike.

Despite seeing Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales top the opening practice session on Friday morning, Ducati struck back in the afternoon as Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone clinched a one-two finish for the Italian marque.

Dovizioso led the way with a fastest lap of 1:23.617, finishing two-tenths clear of Iannone. Vinales finished as the best of the rest in P3, eight-tenths off Dovizioso’s time, with Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi following in fourth place.

“I’m very satisfied with how my weekend has started, although the tires and the weather conditions were very different to during the test in July,” Dovizioso said.

“Despite that, we’ve been able to confirm our good performance and we’re going well – but it’s not enough because we still have room to improve ahead of the race.

“It’s certain though, with this speed, that we can use the two sessions tomorrow to look for the best race pace.”

Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix takes place on Saturday in Spielberg.