Marc Marquez claimed a record 59th premier class pole at the Austrian Grand Prix, but Andrea Dovizioso believes he is still in the picture.
Reigning MotoGP champion and 2019 leader Marquez set himself up for another successful weekend with a fastest time of 1:23.027 in qualifying, which was over four tenths quicker than anyone else.
Dovizioso, third on the grid, acknowledged the Spaniard is "so fast" but insists he will fight Marquez, who he trails by 63 points in the riders' standings, all the way on Sunday.
"We work really hard for the race, we are quite consistent, but Marc is so fast with every tyre, in every practice," Dovizioso told a news conference.
"But we are there. We work so hard and I think we are ready to fight. There are still some things that I can improve and that's a positive.
"We'll see the conditions and we also have the warm-up to be working on that."
Marquez delighted in his performance on Saturday but similarly acknowledged Dovizioso could yet come back on race day.
"Already, before, I saw that it was maybe possible [to get one minute and] 22 [seconds], but in the end 23.0 is a good lap," Marquez said.
"Most important is that we feel good on the bike and the confidence is really high. All weekend with the Repsol Honda team, we've worked in the best way with the correct steps.
"But Sunday is the most important day. It is coming and this guy on my left [Dovizioso] is not far away. He is consistent and, especially with the used tyre, he has a good pace."
The Red Bull Ring is the only circuit where Marquez is yet to win in MotoGP. He claimed pole in each of the last two years, but had to settle for second place on each occasion.
Ducati have tasted victory for three consecutive years, including when Dovizioso won in 2017.
'TOUGHEST RACE OF THE SEASON'
Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo, rather than Dovizioso, was closest to Marquez's time, but the qualifying specialist was less confident of a genuine race challenge.
"Normally I always set myself a goal in terms of position, but I think this race will be the toughest one of the season," Quartararo said.
"This is a track that, for Yamaha, does not suit us really well. But tomorrow is a race where we need to learn from the riders, take experience here from a track where we need to manage the tyres at the begininning of the race.
"We will give 100 per cent and enjoy the race."
Maverick Vinales starts fourth for the factory Yamaha team as he looks to bounce back from a poor 10th-place finish in the Czech Republic.
Vinales said: "Honestly, I'm really happy because we worked in a good way. We have to keep trying to improve because we lose a few tenths on the straights which we have to recover on the brakes and corner speed.
"The way the bike is working in the corners is really good, so the chassis is really nice. I don't know what the weather will be like, the conditions are the same for everyone, so we need to keep working to understand how to be fast when there's less grip."
Rookie Francesco Bagnaia of Pramac Racing and LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami join him on the second row after both riders recorded career-best results in qualifying.
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing)
6. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
9. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
11. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
12. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
2018: Jorge Lorenzo (for Ducati)
2017: Andrea Dovizioso
2016: Andrea Iannone (for Ducati)
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 210
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 147 (-63)
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 129 (-81)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 114 (-96)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 91 (-119)
1. Repsol Honda 216
2. Ducati 177 (-39)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 163 (-53)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 131 (-85)
5. KTM 61 (-155)
Light showers are anticipated in Spielberg on Sunday morning, but the track may well dry out by the time Marquez and his rivals are in action, giving the pole-sitter the opportunity to ride to an uneventful victory.