The Yamaha rider has traditionally struggled with wet conditions on the M1 circuit, but was strong in March at the rain-soaked Indonesian Grand Prix when he finished second – and was in the top 10 in FP2 on Saturday morning at Mategi.

But Quartararo could do no better than ninth in qualifyingmissing the pole by 1.1 seconds.

The Frenchman was unable to make any improvements on his initial flying lap of 1m56.326s and doesn’t see how this is possible when his rivals are doing it.

“Not happy because I expected much better,” Quartararo said.

“I still don’t understand how you can go into Q2, do a first lap in 1 minute 56.7 seconds and then the whole qualifying is the same – no improvements.

“I have a feeling that when we check the data, it’s not the same.

“So I got a little lost on that track in the wet.

“It feels good, but how to do the lap time… we were one second off pole.

“It’s a lot, but compared to what it was before, it’s not too bad. But it’s hard to understand.”

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo: Gold and Goose / Images of motor sports

Quartarara starts between his main rivals in the championship Francesco Bagnaia in the 12th and Aleix Espargaro sixth at Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, which is expected to be held in dry conditions.

What worries him is the fact that his overtaking opportunities on the Yamaha will be limited compared to the Ducati and Aprilia.

“The only problem is the facilities they have compared to us to overtake,” he said when asked if he would only focus on where his rivals are in the race.

“This is a problem. So I’m more concerned about what and where I can overtake because every braking [zone] after a straight line.

“So that will be my main concern in the race. But I feel ready and I feel like we can do something.

“At the moment, only 7 years [is where I can overtake] and it’s not exactly a place to overtake. But if I want to overtake, this is the only place I can.”

Espargaro ‘wants to win’ but has to ‘use his brain’

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo: Gold and Goose / Images of motor sports

Aleix Espargaro struggled for much of the wet morning session at Mategi on Saturday, but managed to put his Aprilia on the second row for sixth – just 0.557s off Mark Marquezpole time.

The Spaniard, currently 17 points adrift of the championship leader, admits it’s hard to know how his race will go given how much work Aprilia had to do in Friday’s dry FP1 to make his bike competitive.

However, while he knows he needs to be aware of his main title rivals, he believes he can challenge for the race win.

Asked what to expect from the race, Espargaro said: “It’s hard to tell you.

“Honestly, I don’t know what to expect. Yesterday the bike was very happy to be competitive.

“From 2019, Aprilia is a different world. I changed gears in five turns, we changed the gearbox [to find] more than 20 km/h, we changed the balance, electronics.

“So even on Friday we were very fast.

“So I think tomorrow could be a good day for us. You have to use your brain, but I want to win tomorrow.

“I think I have a good opportunity. I’m fast, the bike runs pretty good, the grid is a bit weird. But obviously you have to know them and analyze the situation.

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