Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro secured a third row start on the GSX-RR at the Japanese MotoGP despite failing to make the most of the extra soft qualifying tyre at Motegi.

Cooler track temperatures meant Espargaro was unable to lap at his full potential, but the Spaniard clocked a time of 1m 44.809s to head up row three in seventh place and was pleased nonetheless with his position.

"The reality is that I'm happy with seventh place but I'm not so satisfied about the day overall. Today the track was a lot colder than yesterday and in these conditions the soft tyre couldn't perform as well as I expected," Espargaro said.

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"However, P7 is a good start, we are very close to the second row and this means we are in good shape. On the other hand I feel very comfortable with the hard tyre, I have been fast since yesterday with that configuration and I feel comfortable about the pace for tomorrow.

"For sure we have to make some more checks and see how we can further improve, and at the same time we'll have to see the weather conditions since some rain is expected," he added.

"In that case it will be an unpredictable race, we have had two wet races so far and they were completely the opposite: we will see what happens and how we can react."

His team-mate, premier class rookie Maverick Vinales, progressed to Q2 after topping the Q1 times and eventually sealed 10th place on the fourth row with a lap of 1 m45.081s.

"Finally I could improve a lot from yesterday and I'm very happy with this. We've lost almost the whole of Friday with a configuration that didn't make me feel totally comfortable, but it was good to gain experience; in fact today I have a much better feeling with the bike and I improved a lot," said Vinales.

"My lap times today are faster: 1.4s on the single fast lap and around 1.0s on consistent pace overall.

"Tomorrow it's hard to predict; we are expecting rain and this could mix-up things because we have very little experience of these conditions, but at the same time it could represent a chance of a higher-place finish that we could exploit."