Ducati duo set the pace as Marquez struggles


Ducati duo Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone were the stand out performers on the first day of practice at the Red Bull Ring, while difficulties for MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez suggest his 48-point advantage could decrease this weekend.

The Austrian Grand Prix is the first race since the mid-season break and Dovizioso set the fastest lap of the day with a time of one minutes and 23.617 seconds, saving his best for his final run of FP2.

Ducati team-mate Iannone came in a 0.238secs back, with Dovizioso displaying good pace as the only rider to surpass the 310 kilometres per hour mark.

The pair had been second to Maverick Vinales on the Suzuki Ecstar in FP1, and the Spaniard showed consistency to improve his lap time and set the third quickest time in the second session.

On Thursday, Marquez admitted there were areas of the track were Repsol Honda could lose time and that proved to be the case.

Having been outdone by championship rivals Valentino Rossi in both sessions and his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in FP2, Marquez - who, like Lorenzo, did not use to softer rear tyre - will be hoping to improve his pace over the weekend.

Rossi, returning to the site of his first podium on the international stage in 1996, and Lorenzo have failed finish inside the top three in either of the past two grands prix and will be desperate to do so in Spielberg.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) crashed to bring out the red flags in FP1 and was 19th on the timesheet in the second session, while Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki Ecstar) sustained a fractured finger and will have his race fitness assessed on Saturday.