Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso laid down an early marker on Friday at Motegi and the Italian rider is feeling confident he can continue in the same vein.

Dovizioso edged out Marc Marquez in the wet in 2017 at the Japanese circuit and he headed the times in FP1, lapping in 1m 45.358s to take the top spot from LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow by 0.105s.

If Dovizioso beats Marquez on Sunday, he will delay the Honda rider's title celebrations.

“We start in a good way,” said Dovizioso. “The feeling on the bike was good this morning. The base was good. For sure there is something to improve, but the bike works well at this track. We worked a little bit on the tyres but unfortunately this afternoon we didn't have the conditions to ride on the dry.

“But overall I’m happy about the start to the weekend, it’s not enough for the race but I think we are in a good way. I think we know what we have to improve and tomorrow the conditions look good so I think we will have time to work on that.”

Dovizioso has been concentrating on the heavy braking areas at the Twin Ring circuit and after FP2 was affected by rain, the 32-year-old says he has more work to do on Saturday to improve stability.

“At this track it’s mainly the braking. We need a little bit more stability on the brakes. The acceleration is not bad. We have to work to save the tyre, but to be fast here for sure it's about the braking,” said Dovizioso, who said he did not think the rain in FP2 had given Ducati the upper hand over the Honda riders.

“I think already this morning Marc (Marquez) was fast, so I don’t think so, but you never know,” he said.