Andrea Iannone has predicted a six-way battle for victory at the Australia MotoGP and accepts a first pole position in over two years slipped away in the mixed conditions.

After ending Friday fastest for Suzuki, Iannone produced eye-catching pace in the final practice session – held close to the same time as the race starts on Sunday – which has led to a number of his rivals placing him as favourite for victory at Phillip Island.

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Iannone has shrugged off the favourite tag but remains confident with his race pace if he can manage his tyre life over the final five laps which he says he was unable to achieve 12 months ago at the Australian track and that undid his rostrum charge.

“It depends on the development of the race and also the wind, so many things, the pace, in case we start from the beginning and push then it is important to push,” Iannone said assessing his race plan. “It is very difficult as every race is different. I have an idea for tomorrow.

“I know I have a good pace but we will see, it is difficult to know who is strong. For sure Marc also Vale, Vinales, Rins, Dovizioso. Everybody is very close.”

The Italian rider felt pole position was within reach at Phillip Island but was unsettled by the intermittent rain which greeted the start of Q2 and returned for the final three minutes.

It meant the majority of riders only had one or two clean laps in the middle of the 15-minute session which saw Iannone miss out on the front row by just 0.007s in fourth place when he felt at first pole position since the 2016 Austria MotoGP – the same race he secured his only premier class win – was available.

“It was bad conditions, difficult conditions. We can control everything apart from the weather,” he said. “In any case it was like this and we start from the second row so not so bad.

“I am not really happy because we had the possibility to start take pole position but we didn’t. But we’ll see about tomorrow as we arrive with potential and we have a good pace and I am happy.

“The feeling with the bike is not so bad so this is the most important thing. On the other side it is really important we arrive in the last five laps with good performance from the rear tyre to be able to fight on the last give laps. This is key at the moment but we will see.”

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