Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Pol Espargaro was bumped back to the third row of the grid in the dying moments of final qualifying, but is 'convinced' he is in a strong position ahead of the Japanese MotoGP.

Espargaro finished seventh and a mere 0.013s behind Pramac Ducati's Andrea Iannone at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit with a lap in 1m 44.867s.

And the premier class rookie says finding a way past the Ducati rider early will be key to fulfilling his aim of breaking into the top six.

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"It was a very competitive session today which is clear to see by the tight gap to the front. However to finish in seventh is not bad at all, although of course it's not as high as what I had aimed for," Espargaro said.

"I made some small mistakes during my fast lap and without these I could have been much closer to the front, which would have made the race a little easier tomorrow.

"Yet, I will now have to concentrate and get a great start so that I can fight and work my way through the field with the most important factor being to overtake Iannone on the first lap. It's vital to get past the Ducati because they are tough to pass due to being good on the brakes and in acceleration," he added.

"My aim is to get behind the leaders as soon as possible in order to follow them and to study their lines because that is the best way to improve, even if I am convinced that we are already in a strong position for Yamaha's home race tomorrow."