Andrea Dovizioso has repeated his suspicion of an underlying technical weakness with his Ducati GP19 causing his slower pace in good grip conditions with a new tyre while looking ahead to the Australian MotoGP.

The Italian rider is closing in on the runner-up spot in the MotoGP riders’ world championship, with a 55-point gap to Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Monster Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales heading to Phillip Island this weekend.

In what is likely to be his third consecutive runner-up championship result in MotoGP, Dovizioso has cut a frustrated figure this season battling setup issues with his 2019 Ducati while seeing Marc Marquez dominate to the title.

Dovizioso laid the blame on his poor pace over the opening laps of the Japanese GP, struggling to extract performance on fresh tyres with a full fuel tank in “good grip conditions”, and fears it is a technical problem with his Ducati that has been present “too many times this season” which he remains concerned with ahead of the Australian GP.

“Last year we did a really good and fast race. I hope to stay on the podium again,” Dovizioso said. “I think it will be hard because for sure Marc but also the Yamaha riders will be very strong, Rins I think he will be strong. So it will be hard but last race at the end of the race we were quite fast.

“We have to understand something about that because it has happened too many times in this season and I think there is a technical reason. But here we are at a completely different track.”

With a wet and chilly weather forecast for the Australian MotoGP weekend, the Italian is also wary of how changeable conditions will impact his preparations.

“The conditions are very strange and let’s see what the conditions are because that will effect everybody,” he said. “The tyres but also the wind and which way it goes. We will wake up tomorrow morning and I will see the conditions.”

Last year Dovizioso claimed his first podium in Australia since joining Ducati with his previous rostrum at Phillip Island coming back in 2011 for Repsol Honda.