Repsol Honda team-mates Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso start this weekend's Japanese MotoGP separated by just 15 points in the championship.

It's a slightly artificial 'battle' - given that Pedrosa missed three races through injury - but has particular significance for Dovizioso.

The Italian is set to lose his Repsol seat as the team scales back to two riders for 2012 and finishing third in the title would do his future employment prospects no harm.

Dovizioso suffered his first non-score of the season after a first-lap accident at Aragon, but his strong memories of Motegi - having taken his first MotoGP pole at the Honda-owned track last year, before finishing second in the race, behind future team-mate Casey Stoner.

"We go to Japan focused on returning to the podium, this has to be our target," said Dovizioso. "We will arrive at the Japanese GP this year in the same position we were last year - straight from a crash and zero points, but I'm determined to transform this disappointment with extra motivation.

"Last season we had a great race and we almost won, so I'm confident to repeat a great performance at Motegi, a circuit that I like and where I have been on the podium in all the three classes.

"Moreover, this is Honda's home GP and it's very important to score a good result here," he continued. "Concerning the Championship, we are third in the World Standings and we aim to strengthen our position, recovering some points on Lorenzo and maintaining the gap to Dani."

Pedrosa's 2010 title chances ended when a technical problem caused a collarbone-breaking accident during practice for last year's Japanese GP. The Spaniard returns seeking his third race win for 2011.

"Motegi is one of my favourite circuits not only for the layout but also for the atmosphere; I always ride well there and feel a lot of support from the Japanese fans and I think this year will be even more special for them," said Pedrosa.

"Obviously, last year I had a hard time there due to my injury, but I want to focus on my riding and enjoy the GP. I go there with the same approach as the last races: trying to do our best in all the sessions. We've been at a good level, with three second places in a row and I am looking forward to this race. I have won at this track in 125 and 250, but not yet in MotoGP, so that's a big motivation for me. I enjoy racing in Motegi and together with my team will do our best to perform well".

Second in the championship Jorge Lorenzo is 55 points ahead of Dovizioso, meaning third in the championship is the realistic best that either Dovizioso or Pedrosa can achieve.