Bradley Smith bettered his time from the opening night of practice in Qatar by a whopping 1.4s to breeze into the decisive qualifying decider at the Losail International Circuit.
The MotoGP newcomer was as high as sixth at one stage in FP3 on the Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 before eventually ending day two in ninth on the combined leaderboard, with a fastest lap in 1m 56.901s putting him ahead of Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda.
A satisfied Smith said his key objective was to finish inside the top ten to progress to the second qualifying session automatically under the new format.
“I am really happy because one of my big objectives was to make sure I was inside the top 10 tonight and straight into the second qualifying session.
“Now I've done that I feel like it is a big achievement that I am really proud because it was not easy,” he said.
“I found well over a second in the final session and to finish just over 0.8s away from the top is a fantastic result for me.
“I didn't realise just how hard you have to push the bike to get down to that pace and it is going to be very hard to ride at that intensity for the whole race.”
Smith's quickest lap left him less than half a second adrift of Valentino Rossi
ion the factory Yamaha in fourth place.
“Credit to the other guys who run a consistently fast pace throughout the race because it is incredibly hard and something I will need to focus on improving,” he said.
“My Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team did a great job tonight.
“They gave me a bike that gave me a lot of confidence and that was proven in just how much faster I was in the final session.
“I am less than 0.5s away from Valentino so I am really pleased.
“There's still a lot of work to do on the race set-up but I am truly happy to be inside that top 10.”