Prince of darkness Dovizioso sets pace in Qatar

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Doha (AFP)

Italy's Andrea Dovizioso, the world championship runner-up last season, took his Ducati to the top of the time charts in Friday practice for the season-opening Qatar MotoGP.

Dovizioso clocked a best lap of 1 min 54.361 sec in the second session staged under floodlights, just like the race will be at Losail on Sunday night.

The Italian finished ahead of compatriot Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Pramac) and Spain's Alex Rins on a Suzuki.

Behind these three were Jorge Lorenzo of Spain on the second factory Ducati at 0.470 sec off the pace and defending world champion and compatriot Marc Marquez on a Honda.

Marquez, chasing a fourth MotoGP world title and third in succession this season, was 0.489 sec behind Dovizioso.

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was 0.492 sec back on his Yamaha and in ninth spot overall while teammate Maverick Vinales could only manage the 11th best time at 0.834 sec off the pace.

Practice times:

1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 1:54.361, 2. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ducati Pramac) at 0.006, 3. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 0.097, 4. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Ducati) 0.470, 5. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Suzuki) 0.480, 6. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.489, 7. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) 0.490, 8. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/LCR Honda) 0.491, 9. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 0.492, 10. Johann Zarco (FRA/Yamaha Tech3) 0.551