Marc Marquez still has his sights set on trying to wrap-up the 2018 MotoGP title from the top step of the podium at Motegi, despite being left sixth on the grid.

Although fastest - for the first time this weekend - in final practice, Marquez eliminated his preferred Repsol Honda from qualifying due to a fast lowside fall in the closing minutes of the session.

“In FP4 I crashed on the bike that I was feeling very strong and constant with, while my second bike had a completely different set-up that I didn’t like as much. We had no time to change it, so I expecting to struggle a bit in qualifying," explained Marquez, who was nonetheless just 0.299s from pole.

Marquez's spill occurred after switching from a new to old (15 laps) medium rear tyre, with which he set two of his best sector times the lap before his fall.

It was that kind of pace which prompted Ducati pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso, who can delay Marquez's title celebrations if he beats the Spaniard on Sunday, to warn the #93 is in far better shape than his sixth in qualifying suggests.

"We know that our race pace is good for tomorrow, and we’re happy with that," acknowledged Marquez.

"We’ll try to start well, and then we’ll see where we are at the end of the first lap; from then on we’ll try and manage the race well, with the target of getting on the podium and, if possible, of fighting for the victory.”

Even if he doesn't wrap up the title in Honda's home race on Sunday, Marquez will have three further chances to claim his fifth MotoGP crown.

Less confident for Sunday is team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who will start his final Japanese MotoGP from just eleventh (+0.929s) on the grid.

"This weekend we tried to improve in qualifying, but it didn’t work out, which is a pity because a good starting position is very important at this track," he said.

"We’ll have to recover, even if it’s always tough to overtake in the first few laps. We have to make a good tyre choice and start well, and then we’ll see what options we have.”



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