SRT Petronas Yamaha MotoGP rider Fabio Quartararo admitted he surprised himself by putting his satellite bike on the outside of the front row in Motegi.
The Frenchman was the fastest man in the dry conditions through Friday free practice, however heavy rain left the rookie in conditions he has limited experience in. Despite a lack of wet miles, Quartararo put his M1 on the outside of the front row, behind newly crowned World Champion Marc Marquez and his Petronas SRT team-mate Franco Morbidelli.
“I’m really pleased to be on the front row,” said the 20-year-old.
“Honestly, I never felt really great in these conditions, but like Marc said, apart from two corners the track was almost dry. So was really tricky in the second bridge, when we put the third gear going into the left it was really aggressive.
“We didn’t expect to finish in the front row, but I feel great. We make a good lap, some mistakes, but it was a good lap.”
Two of the last three races has seen Quartararo lose out to Marquez on the final lap of the race. When asked if he thinks he has a chance to challenge once again, he said: “I hope, honestly the pace was good yesterday.
“The tyres is not easy to make the right choice, will depend on the temperature of the track. But yesterday we had a good pace, feeling good, we will try small settings on the warmup to see if we can still improve a little bit the bike. But I’m ready to fight and hope to make a good first lap.”
Since the summer break the Yamaha has seen an uptick in performance with all four of their MotoGP riders finding themselves regularly up the sharp end of the field. Quartararo said that he heard a lot about the Yamaha struggling in certain circuits, but nothing has been as bad as he was warned about.
“Like I said Thursday, I heard a lot that the Yamaha isn’t good in some tracks, but honestly since the beginning of the year I feel good,” he said.
“It’s true that we have a lot of positive points, but some like top speed is not the best, but in the corners, I feel really good, on the braking for sure we can improve a little bit.”