Andrea Iannone labeled Saturday “a really good day” after he qualified his Ducati GP15 in fourth, at the front of the second row, for Sunday's MotoGP race.
Inside the top five throughout the weekend, Iannone was only denied a front row start by a late Valentino Rossi lap but the Italian still found positives after setting a strong pace in both FP3 and 4.
While Andrea Dovizioso has said he will race Ducati's upgraded engine and fairing, Iannone opted for the older machine throughout Saturday. In the end he lapped two places and half a second faster than his more experienced team-mate.
“Is a really good day, because this morning and this afternoon, I have a good pace. I work really well with my team, and improve the setting of the bike and the feeling, and this is really important for the race.
“My pace is not so bad, it is more close compared to the last five races, and this is really good. For tomorrow, I think I have a good possibility for a good race, and this is really important for me and for my motivation. And for sure I will try my best.
“About the new parts on the bike, the engine and the fairing, I don't use for tomorrow in the race, but not because it doesn't improve the performance, but I'm focused a lot on setting up the bike, and I use the first bike and not the second, and I continue with this.”
“I tried [the new parts], but only ten laps in the whole weekend on the first day. For sure there is a difference, but not important. [The engine] Doesn't have a big difference. Not a big step.”
Iannone pointed at a change with seat position as one reason for his proximity to the Movistar Yamaha pairing and Marc Marquez's Repsol Honda in each setting.
“In the first practice I have two bikes,” explained the Italian. “One with the seat up, and one with the seat down, and I try these two bikes, and in the last, I prefer with the seat down. Helps me a little bit with the braking point, this track I think is really important.
“In the other way I change a lot the setting compared to Indy, and is I think really important because now I have a good feeling with the bike. For sure my team help me a lot, because at the moment, the work is incredible.”
Iannone also revealed that he will use the medium front tyre after a succession of riders fell while testing the front on Friday afternoon. “I have the drop of the tyre, but is normal. I hope is the same for the other riders. I don't know which riders use the tyre, if Marc, Vale or Jorge. But I hope use the medium, because for sure, is impossible to use the hard. In the front I use the 33, the medium.”
Asked whether he can challenge the front row, which includes all three championship contenders, the number 29 said, “I hope. Not so easy, I think it's really difficult, but for sure I try my best, because I have a good feeling with the bike, and I improve a lot the bike, because my team work really good, so this is really important for tomorrow.”