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Andrea Dovizioso and Hector Barbera qualify ninth and tenth respectively for the Michelin Australian Grand Prix, on a rain-affected day at Phillip Island

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Unpredictable weather once again conditioned the free practice and qualifying sessions at the Phillip Island circuit today. With an air temperature of around 12°, it was the sporadic rain, together with gusts of cold wind and the occasional heavy downpour that caused problems for the MotoGP riders and teams taking part in the second day of action at the Australian GP.

This morning’s FP3 session, which was held over 60 minutes to give the riders a chance to make up for time lost yesterday when FP2 was red-flagged, saw Andrea Dovizioso take fifth place with a time of 1’34.721, while Hector Barbera was classified in tenth with a time of 1’35.300. As a result both Ducati Team riders went through directly into the afternoon’s Q2 session.

After FP4, which was interrupted for over half-an-hour due to a heavy downpour over the Australian circuit and which finished with Dovizioso eighth and Barbera fifteenth, the two Ducati Team riders went out on a still damp track for the fifteen-minute qualifying session, counting for the first four rows of the grid.

After setting their fastest times on front and rear intermediates, both Ducati men stopped in the pits to switch to a rear slick, as the track in the meantime had dried out almost completely, but they were unable to take advantage of the short time remaining and the session came to an end with Dovizioso in ninth and Barbera tenth.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’33.90 (9th)
“I’m disappointed about my qualifying session because over the last two days we have been working really well: unfortunately when we put on the rear slick we had a problem, caused, I think, by the low outside temperature and so, without the right feeling to try and push hard, I came into the pits. Pity, because today we were always amongst the top five and with the intermediate tyre on my first run in Q2 I was third. We made the tyre change at the right time and for sure we could have fought for the first two rows, which was our aim. Starting from the third row certainly won’t make things easy tomorrow, but I believe we have the potential to run a good race in any case.”

Hector Barbera (Ducati Team #8) – 1’33.914 (10th)
“Today was quite a positive day because I managed to do a lot more laps than yesterday and in the wet I had a good feeling, even though we still have to sort a few things out on the bike in case it rains tomorrow. In qualifying we lapped on an almost totally dry track surface, picking up a lot of information, and my feeling was good right up until the moment when we fitted a rear slick. Unfortunately, probably because of the cold, the tyre didn’t work so well and I was unable to push as hard as I would have liked. Tomorrow I’m hoping for a dry warm-up session so we can sort this out, and I’m sure that without this difficulty we could have been much further up on the grid.”