Andrea Dovizioso has been left bemused by his lack of pace “when the grip was good” at the start of the race before charging up the order to record the 100th podium of his career.

The Ducati rider made his customary fast start to move up to fifth place on the opening lap but then saw his progress stalled in that position for the first 10 laps as he struggled to find a way past Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas Yamaha.

But as tyre life began to take a grip on the race, with Jack Miller and Morbidelli duly going backwards having picked soft rear tyres, Dovizioso’s pace improved on the medium rear tyre to move up to third place.

A late attack to close in on Fabio Quartararo, who was also struggling on his soft rear tyre, saw Dovizioso take almost one second per lap out of the French rider but his charge came a lap too late as he had to settle for third place half a second behind the rookie at the chequered flag.

Reflecting on his Japanese MotoGP, Dovizioso pointed blame at his poor pace with a fresh tyre which he says he endured throughout the race weekend at Motegi.

“It was a bit of a strange race, we had a lot of question marks before the race on tyre choice, setup and also in the warm-up I didn’t feel good,” Dovizioso said. “I wasn’t so comfortable before the race to make this kind of race so about that we are happy.

“But we struggled in the first half of the race when the grip was good for everybody, that is when I wasn’t fast enough. I was losing too much in the middle of the corners and I couldn’t be faster than Morbidelli.

“So lap by lap the tyres dropped and in that case my bike worked better and better and better and I was able to brake better. My lap time improved.

“So I am really happy about the last part of the race because my feeling was really good and the lap time was good but we are not fast when the grip is good and this is something that we have to analyse and study because like in practice we need to be on top and like at the beginning of the race.

“I am a bit disappointed about that, especially when you see what happened at the end of the race when I was really fast but this is the situation which we have to analyse.”

Dovizioso took small comfort from recording his 100th career podium meaning he becomes just the 10th rider in history to achieve the feat in motorcycle Grand Prix racing.

“It is an important number but… we are not living for the records so we want to win. That is the point, so I am a bit disappointed about the race in this moment,” he said.

“Fortunately, at the beginning of the race when I wasn’t fast, I was calm and I always rode in a smooth way, so in the end when the bike worked a bit better I was able to be fast.”

Dovizioso has also tightened his grip on second place in the MotoGP riders’ standings as he holds a 55-point advantage over both Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales who are level on points.