There was to be no second guessing Andrea Dovizioso’s intentions after the Italian secured pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, with winning a fourth race of the year on Sunday his only concern.

Dovizioso has been the pace setter from the first session of the 16th round of the season, but doesn’t foresee Sunday being a laidback stroll to victory. Rather, title rival Marc Marquez, whom he trails by 77 points in the championship, will very much be in the running, he said.

But still, the 32-year old was delighted with his Ducati GP18’s “really good” base setting, which he refined through qualifying day. His fastest time of 1m 45.1s – good enough to top FP3 – in the morning boded well. He would go on to lower that to a 1m 44.590s in the afternoon’s Q2 session.

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“I’m happy about the pole position and the feeling I had for the pole position,” said Dovizioso. “I’m happy also here in the way we work. The base was really good from the first practice but we were able to improve a little bit this afternoon and able to make a really good lap time in the qualifying.

“This morning already with the 1m 45.0s I had a really good feeling and I knew I was able to make more or less that lap time. The bike worked well.

“But Marc I think has a really good pace. Today he was the fastest. I didn’t use a new tyre in the afternoon but his pace is really strong. So I think at the moment we are very similar with the pace about the race.

“And I think there are other riders who have really good pace. So let’s tomorrow the conditions and also the tyre choice. I think almost everybody went quite fast with the medium and the soft so everybody has to make the right decision.”

Will he risk it all come Sunday? “The goal is to win the race,” he said. “I don’t care about his celebration because we’re thinking about the championship. We want to win. We want to improve the bike and take the maximum of the weekend.”

Asked on his strategy for the race, Dovizioso added, “I don’t know. Still we have to study and understand the consumption of the tyre, which is the biggest effect of the race.

“It looks like here the consumption is less than the last two races so the range of the strategy becomes bigger. So everybody is able to make the race in a different way. Still we have to decide.”