MotoGP: What Marquez needs to do to win the title

Valentino Rossi

"Honestly speaking we don't have the rhythm to win the race at the moment, but we have the rhythm I think to fight for the podium", said Marquez.

Dovizioso won the race past year for Ducati and set the pace yesterday in both the wet and dry in free practice with a best lap of 2mins 00.671secs.

British Honda rider Cal Crutchlow was sixth, Czech rider Karel Abraham on a Ducati seventh, and Spain's Hector Barbera, also on a Ducati, was eighth.

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Pole-sitter Pedrosa is hoping the race remains dry - Malaysia is known for its weather swings, and making the dry to wet shift is more tricky for riders than fighting humid and sultry conditions. "This morning we made a small mistake with the setup and lost the direction a little bit". Anyway, we're not happy with today but not completely disappointed either, as our pace isn't bad. "It won't be easy because here, every time you go on track the feeling is different, depending on temperature, if it rains or not, and so on, so we'll see what it's like tomorrow and do our best, like always".

Dovizioso won at Sepang a year ago, but Marquez nonetheless seems primed to close out a second consecutive title triumph, having prevailed in Australia last weekend.

"We know it's hard, but the Championship is open and we'll try everything", Dovizioso said at a press conference ahead of the Malaysia GP, scheduled to take place over the weekend.

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"In qualifying I did an nearly ideal lap, and this gave me an vast satisfaction!"

The second row is headed by Valentino Rossi after he was able to get the better of team-mate Maverick Viñales, with the Spaniard just 0.040 off the veteran Italian and lining up in fifth.

He lacked confidence to push on this bike and found himself down in seventh - just the second time in his premier class career he has qualified outside of the top two rows - while Dovizioso guided his Ducati to third. And if things go wrong in Malaysia, he would still have a distinct advantage going into his "home" Grand Prix - the Valencia GP - on November 12.

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