Can Dovizioso take third Malaysia MotoGP victory in a row?
Sepang, Malaysia - Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso is chasing his third Malaysian MotoGP win in a row this weekend as he seeks to be crowned runner-up to world champion Marc Marquez.
Honda's Marquez already clinched the championship in Japan last month but now the race is on to finish second in the overall standings, a position currently held by Dovizioso but with Valentino Rossi snapping at his heels.
Coming off the back of a third-placed finish at the Australian MotoGP last week, the Italian is hoping that he can repeat his past stellar performances at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday.
Dovizioso acknowledged that Ducati typically performs well at Sepang, telling a press conference: "It's really good, this track for me."
But he was not taking victory, and the runner-up spot, for granted, and said that everything could depend on the weather conditions.
His 2016 victory - the first MotoGP he had won for seven years - and his 2017 win came in heavy downpours, and he said that dry conditions could actually work against him.
"In the past... we did not make a lot of good results on the dry," he said.
Still, there is a high chance of rain at the weekend, with Malaysia experiencing frequent torrential downpours at it enters its monsoon season.
Marquez, who last won in Malaysia in 2014, conceded it would be tough to take on Ducati.
"It's true that normally Ducati is in a very good level here in Malaysia," he said.
"But you never know. It's not one of the best circuits but also Motegi (in Japan) was not one of the best circuits and in the end we were able to fight for the victory."
The Spaniard, who has now won five championships in motorcycling's premier class, is hoping for better luck in Malaysia after being forced out of the Australian MotoGP in a dramatic high-speed collision.
Yamaha's Johann Zarco shunted him on lap six as they were screaming down the track at 250 kilometres (155 miles) per hour. Neither the Frenchman nor Marquez were injured.
"Lucky that both of us are ok. We already spoke and he apologised," he said.
Yamaha's Maverick Vinales triumphed at Phillip Island, scoring his first win of the year to break Yamaha's 25-race win drought.