Packing a punch: Petronas duo set for podium attack?

Quartararo P3, Morbidelli P4 – it’s been a great weekend so far at Misano but how are the riders feeling after “tough” Q2…

It’s been a very solid GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini so far for Petronas Yamaha SRT duo Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli. The pair will lineup P3 and P4 respectively for Sunday’s race after a good showing in Q2, but the Frenchman found the going slightly tough on Saturday afternoon.

Both Quartararo and polesitter Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) have been the ones to beat throughout the weekend at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, with the rookie leading his fellow Yamaha rider by 0.356 heading into qualifying. During that FP3 session, Quartararo said he felt “great” on his YZR-M1 but when it came to hotter and windier qualifying conditions, the 20-year-old admitted he felt “a little lost”.

“Yeah it was a tough qualifying for us, the goal was to be on the front row and we reached our goal,” began Quartararo, who ended up 0.306 off Viñales’ pace in Q2. “This morning I felt really great on the bike, perfect conditions, no wind. This afternoon was quite a bit windier and much hotter. We were a little bit lost, well, I was a little bit lost in qualifying.

“We swapped to the soft front which was not the best choice, anyway at the end we keep a good position for the race, that is the first row, and we have a good pace to fight for a good result tomorrow so we just need to enjoy it.”

Nevertheless, a front row start gives Quartararo every chance of getting a good start – and that’s his first protocol when the lights go out on Sunday. “First of all I want to make a good start. Don’t lose positions or not many, that’s the main goal. And of course if we are there we can fight for a good position in the race because our pace is really strong and I will try my best to finish inside the top five and if we have the opportunity to do better, I will do my best.”

Next in line on the MotoGP™ start grid will be teammate Morbidelli. The Italian – apart from FP1 – has been inside the top five in every session this weekend as the number 21 aims to challenge for a podium on Sunday. One-lap pace hasn’t been Morbidelli’s strong point this season, so claiming his best starting position since the Catalan GP will undoubtedly give him added confidence of mixing it at the front.

“I'm satisfied. We managed to respect our aim, which was to start on the first two rows,” reflected Morbidelli, who, like Quartararo, is first and foremost aiming to get a good start. “We're first of the second row, so it's positive. A bit difficult, because we were close to the front row, but anyway I'm happy. Now it's just a matter of fine-tuning everything before the race tomorrow. (Our aim is to) get a good start and try to make a nice race.”

All four Yamahas have looked strong this weekend, but Sunday is where it counts. Can either Quartararo or Morbidelli stake a claim for a podium finish – or more – at Round 13? Find out when the MotoGP™ race roars into life at 14:00 local time (GMT+2)!

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