Aleix Espargaro secured a stunning pole position in MotoGP qualifying at Montmeló and later admitted he was riding on the absolute limit to achieve this feat.
Just his second ever pole is the premier class, Espargaro led team-mate Maverick Viñales at the close of Q2 by 0.083s to mark a memorable day for the Japanese factory, just seven rounds into their return to the series.
Buoyed by a new engine that provides a smoother power delivery in the lower revs, Espargaro's final time of 1m 40.546s was three tenths of a second under the outright circuit record.
“I pushed like completely crazy,” Espargaro told the qualifying press conference. “On my first qualifying lap I was P1 I think and it was fast, but I didn't push so much. But the second fast lap, especially the last split, I completely blocked both brakes in every corner. I opened the gas without thinking. It was really fast.
“Obviously we have some help with the soft tyre but you have to do the lap as well. If you leave the bike alone in the pits with the extra soft tyre you won't get pole position. So really, really happy.
Several riders believed the added horsepower in Suzuki's new engine would affect the GSX-RR's sweet handling chassis but Espargaro said it has done little to limit its turning ability.
“To be able to do a pole position is unbelievable and a lap record in front of my crowd. I enjoy a lot riding at this track every year, the layout is fantastic and since yesterday I've felt great with my bike.
“The frame is turning really good, change of direction as well, and also with the new engine spec we are able to improve some km/h on the straight, which is great and helps us a bit.”
Asked how he will feel as he takes to the grid to lead a premier class race in front of his home fans, Espargaro stressed the need to stay calm and ensure he is well placed on the run to turn one.
“In Argentina I was leading until we arrived in the straight. Obviously to be able to lead my home GP in front of all of the crowd, my friends and family will be fantastic. But it's going to be very difficult because it's a long straight.
"Last year I was P5 and I arrived in the first corner in tenth. Then it's difficult because you need to overtake a lot of riders. But tomorrow I have to use the brain. I know I did the pole position today.
"I'm really happy but the race is going to be more difficult. If I'm able to follow Jorge or Vale for example, try to learn from them, try to follow them to see if we can follow for half-race, all race, three laps, four laps. The first corner will be hard, but we have more power so we will see.”