Andrea Dovizioso predicts an open MotoGP world title fight between multiple riders rather than the battle between himself and Marc Marquez which has developed over the past two seasons.

The MotoGP championship leader sees just nine points split him from Marquez in fourth place, with both Valentino Rossi and Alex Rins separating the pair in the standings, following the dramatic Americas MotoGP round where the Repsol Honda rider crashed out of the lead.

Dovizioso is certain a wide title battle is set to develop in 2019 which will make his target of a maiden premier class title “even harder”.

“I am happy about the final result in Austin, as Saturday we struggled a little bit to do the lap time. We started on the back but we had a good start and I was able to recover,” Dovizioso said. “I am happy to arrive here with this situation in the championship.

“It shows a lot of faster riders and I think we are all, more than Marc and me, are fighting for the championship compared to the last two years.

“It will be even harder this season but I feel more confident that the last two years, I feel we can be more competitive.”

With focus switching to Jerez for the Spanish round this weekend, Dovizioso is eager to understand how the partially-resurfaced circuit will impact both his Ducati GP19 and the Michelin tyres, with the French tyre manufacturer bringing four different front and rear compound options rather than the usual three. The circuit has been resurfaced in key areas since MotoGP’s post-season test last November.

“In Jerez we never know, in the race last year our speed was really good, much better than the past but this year the asphalt is completely different so it will affect a lot everybody,” he said. “Let’s see if it will affect us in a positive or negative way.

“I think it will be different this year here because it is going to be a different situation. But the asphalt is the point so we can’t know but I don’t see why we can be competitive here.”

Dovizioso has never stood on the Jerez podium in the premier class with his best result being fifth place which he’s achieved on three occasions (2012, 2014 and 2017). Last year the Italian was involved in the dramatic three-rider pile-up with teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.