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Not for the first time this season, Petronas Yamaha SRT – the rookie premier class team in 2019 – see both their riders sit on the front row of the grid. Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo excelled in a mixed conditions Q2 at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan to sit just over a tenth off polesitter Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
For Morbidelli, P2 at the Twin Ring Motegi is his first front row start since the Catalan GP. Beating teammate Quartararo over one lap isn’t something the Italian has been able to do often this season – this being the just the third time in 16 – but Saturday in Japan again showed the continued upward trajectory last year’s Rookie of the Year is making in the latter half of the campaign.
Morbidelli masters mixed conditions in Motegi for front row
“Definitely yes, we did a great job today. We did well with the crew, we were able to make a good job yesterday in dry conditions, and today on half and half we were fast,” began Morbidelli, who admits he wasn’t expecting to be quite that fast in qualifying.
“I wasn’t expecting to be that fast but I didn’t have the chance to try the conditions with the slick tyres in FP4. But anyway, we were able to make many good laps in qualifying, we will try to do the same tomorrow.
“Today, I’d say, wasn’t a sincere qualifying because the conditions were half and half. Yesterday the lap time was one second better so we will have to see how we will be in completely dry conditions. But we were fast today, so I don’t know if I improved but we will have to see.”
Another front row for fast Fabio Quartararo
As for Quartararo, a front row start is quickly becoming a formality. That’s 10 in his rookie campaign and on Sunday, the Frenchman can wrap up the 2019 Rookie of the Year title. But what’s ‘El Diablo’ aiming for in the race? That maiden win has slipped agonisingly from his grasp in two of the last three races, but Quartararo says winning isn’t his sole focus.
“First of all we had a good pace yesterday and today was tricky conditions, there was some wet parts, some wet corners. This was our weak point let’s say, we had similar conditions in Brno, when we swapped to slicks in the last moment. Actually I made a big step in these conditions, front row was actually not the goal but we did it so we’re really happy about it and we’ll try to work a little bit more in the warm up, to work on our pace and see if we can do a good job again,” commented Quartararo.
“We need to make a good start, that’s the most important, and then let’s see what we can do in the race. Honestly I feel good, if we make a good start then I think we can fight for the podium and yeah, we will do our 100% to fight with these guys. I’m not really focused on the victory, but focus on making a good race and fighting for the victory. I don’t want to only focus on the victory.”
MotoGP™ Q2 at the Japan GP: the fight for pole position
Is a double Petronas Yamaha SRT pódium on the cards? Morbidelli is yet to taste the premier class podium bubbly, while Quartararo is after his sixth of the year. Tune in at 15:00 local time (GMT+9) to see both men in action at the Japanese GP!
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