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Marc Marquez boosted his chances of winning the 2014 MotoGP title later today by leading warm-up at Motegi in Japan.

The reigning champion, who has qualified off the front row for only the second time this season, must effectively beat nearest title rivals Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi to wrap-up the championship with three rounds to spare.

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That probably means Marquez needs a record-equalling twelfth victory of the season. But the Motegi weekend has gone far from smoothly for Marquez with a brake issue in opening practice and engine problem on Saturday, prior to his subpar fourth in qualifying.

Another rider out of place on Saturday afternoon was Aragon winner Jorge Lorenzo, picked by Marquez as the rider to beat for race pace despite qualifying in fifth. The Movistar Yamaha rider duly proved Marquez's nearest rival in warm-up, but was a sizeable 0.492s adrift of the Repsol Honda star.

Marquez and Lorenzo both did one long run this morning. Marquez set nine laps below 1m 46s, with five for Lorenzo.

Pramac's Ducati Andrea Iannone was the only other rider to lap below 1m 46s, posting a late third place after returning from the pits for two flying laps at the end of the session.

That demoted Lorenzo's team-mate and second place starter Valentino Rossi to fourth (+0.742s) and Pedrosa to fifth (+0.790s).

Andrea Dovizioso, who used the extra soft Open class tyre to claim Ducati's first pole since 2010, was sixth (+0.810s) quickest. Most riders are expected to use the same soft rear and medium front tyre specification for the race.

LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl was seventh, but fell after touching a kerb on the slowdown lap. Tech 3 Yamaha riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, then Dovizioso's team-mate Cal Crutchlow completed a warm-up top ten covered by 1.096s.

Conditions were cooler than for practice, but are set to remain dry for the race.

1. Marc Marquez
2. Jorge Lorenzo
3. Andrea Iannone
4. Valentino Rossi
5. Dani Pedrosa
6. Andrea Dovizioso
7. Stefan Bradl
8. Pol Espargaro
9. Bradley Smith
10. Cal Crutchlow
11. Aleix Espargaro
12. Alvaro Bautista
13. Yonny Hernandez
14. Hector Barbera
15. Katsuyuki Nakasuga
16. Alex De Angelis
17. Hiroshi Aoyama
18. Karel Abraham
19. Scott Redding
20. Nicky Hayden
21. Danilo Petrucci
22. Mike Di Meglio
23. Broc Parkes
24. Michael Laverty