After dominating the unofficial timesheets during a recent private MotoGP test at Mugello, Marc Marquez began the Italian Grand Prix weekend as the rider to beat.

But despite breaking the lap record on Saturday morning, the reigning world champion will start from just sixth on the grid after "struggling more than at the other tracks'.

Marquez's biggest difficulty is with the front tyre in the hot afternoon conditions, prompting two saves in the 15-minute qualifying session alone. But he feels "ready to fight for the podium and why not the victory."

One of Marquez's qualifying saves, at the final corner, was caught on camera but the other - at the faster Arrabbiata 2 - was not.

"On the TV, it was the left side," he said. "At Arrabbiata 2 it was a big save on the right side.

"But the thing is this, this weekend I save many, many times because the tyres are very soft and then I'm playing always in that limit.

"In the morning I'm able to be very fast because I'm using the medium tyre, that is the good one here. But in the afternoon it is too soft.

"The harder option is a strange tyre because on the left it's softer than the medium. I don't like but it's the only option I have to finish the race.

"Anyway, my pace was good with this tyre in FP4 an I was able to stay in '48 low, '47 high. That is the most important."

Marquez added that he is not surprised to see two Yamahas on the front row, in the form of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales, either side of Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo.

However the rider to beat might just be Suzuki's Andrea Iannone, fastest in three of the four practice sessions prior to qualifying.

"I always say that the Yamaha is a good bike. I mean they are second, third and fourth in the championship and Zarco did a lot of races in the front. So the Yamaha is working well, especially with new tyres they are able to have really good acceleration," Marquez said.

"This is normally one of the circuits where we struggle more, but most important is that in the race pace we are very close to them, the same as them. The only one who is a little bit faster than everybody is Iannone. The rest, we are very equal."

With a 36-point title lead, Marquez knows he doesn’t need to win at all costs on Sunday.

"I will start the race thinking about the victory and we are working all weekend for try to win on Sunday," he said. "But on the other hand I understand that it's a race to take points, it's not a race to attack because I don't feel like I want.

"I don't feel like I would like to be on the track but apart from that it's this. We are struggling more than the other tracks, but we are on the same level like the other riders so we are ready to fight for the podium and why not the victory."

Iannone and Pramac's Danilo Petrucci will join Marquez on the second row.