Marc Marquez is confident over his chances of victory in Sunday's Aragon MotoGP after smashing the pole record at the Spanish circuit.
The Repsol Honda rider set the fastest ever lap at Aragon in 1m 46.635s as he edged out Movistar Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo by 0.108s in Q2.
The reigning MotoGP world champion is gunning for his second victory in a row after winning last time out at the rain-hit Misano round but expects a tough battle with Lorenzo and identifies his team-mate Dani Pedrosa and championship leader Valentino Rossi as key challengers for the rostrum.
The 22-year-old attempted three time attacks in Q2 and set his record lap on his second run before losing the front end at Turn 2 on his final effort, sliding into the gravel unhurt in a dramatic conclusion to the session.
“This qualifying has been tricky because the first plan was only to use two tyres on the rear but then I saw already the first lap times were really fast,” Marquez said.
“I changed the plan because the team were ready and we tried to use three rear tyres. With the first one I did a good lap time and with the second one [I made] a few mistakes.
“Then with the last one I tried to push more because I saw that Jorge [Lorenzo] was closer, but I tried to push in the wrong corner in the wrong way. The first right corner is always a tricky point because the tyre is always a little bit colder than usual and I lose the front,” he added.
“Anyway, I am happy because the rear is good and we did a huge step compared to yesterday; we improved a lot with the set-up this morning and I feel ready to fight for the victory.”
Highlighting his chief rivals on Sunday, Marquez said obtaining a podium finish at Aragon will prove a challenge.
“We know that Jorge is really strong and also we cannot forget Dani [Pedrosa], he is very strong too,” he said.
“Tomorrow will be tricky, even to stay on the podium, because Valentino [Rossi] for sure will arrive in the race.”
Marquez was also satisfied by the performance of the medium rear Bridgestone tyre, adding: “This morning the rear was very good and this afternoon with the same tyres also was very good; I was able to keep the rhythm – 1'48 middle – so the feeling is good and I like the circuit – the fans are here supporting us so I will try to do a great Sunday.”
Marquez says tyre management will be an essential part of Sunday's race, although he concedes that Lorenzo's trademark fast pace in the early stages sometimes means that best laid plans must be cast aside.
“It looks like everybody will use the same tyres, the medium front and the soft option on the rear. But maybe the key point will be to try to manage the rear tyre," he said.
“If you push all the laps on the limit then you can overheat and the movement and the slides start and you must be really smooth. So we will try, but when it is Jorge and he starts from the beginning you must push hard to follow him and then try to manage well in that situation.
“We must be really concentrated and try something on the warm-up because it looks like Jorge and Dani are really strong and Valentino will do a step tomorrow."
The double MotoGP champion had been struggling in the hard braking points on Friday but Marquez revealed that a change back to the standard base setting his team has been using this season paid dividends.
“Basically we started with the same setting we had last year because last year here I was very fast and we saw that it was not working," he said.
“Then today we come back to the normal base setting that we have this year, especially with the front it is very similar but we changed a lot with the rear. We did this change this morning and we improved a lot."