Pol Espargaro came into qualifying unsure which front tyre he should use in Sunday's San Marino MotoGP.

The Tech 3 Yamaha rider soon got the answer, but had to pay a high price. Espargaro fell on only his second flying lap with the medium compound front, forcing him to sit out the rest of the session and leaving him twelfth on the grid.

"I decided to put the softer front to improve the lap time and I lost the front. We did not have the second bike ready because I had a [technical] problem with it before and it was impossible to use. So everything came together, a lot of problems, and at the end we start twelfth," Espargaro explained.

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"The rear tyre choice was quite clear (medium), because the harder one is maybe more consistent but is not as strong. The question was more about the front tyre, but I got the answer in qualifying. The temperature was high and more-or-less the same as it will be in tomorrow's race. I tried to push too much and I crashed, so for sure the 38 [hard] will be the choice for all Yamahas.

"For sure it's more safe. I knew already when I started with the [medium]. I only did two laps in qualifying, but even like that I'm only 0.4s off the second row, without being confident with the tyre. This morning I did a '33.4s with a used tyre, so to only do a '33.2 in qualifying with a new tyre is crazy.

"Anyway I'm quite happy with the rhythm we have an especially the bike is working good. Tomorrow's race will be interesting."

Espargaro's first task will be to safely negotiate the notorious opening series of corners, while trying to gain as many places as possible.

"Difficult," he replied, when asked about tactics. "The starts are never how you plan. You just arrive there and find your way, your place, and try to overtake some riders without too many risks.

"I'm a little bit worried because I'm starting twelfth and have the Qualifying 1 riders just behind me and they are really angry! [laughs]. Especially first corner. It will be a little bit tough."

Team-mate Bradley Smith will start sixth.