Danilo Petrucci may have claimed his best qualifying position in the MotoGP class to date, but later joked that missing the front row by 0.001s coupled with Hector Barbera's stellar Saturday showing was enough to leave him frustrated.
The Italian qualified fourth – bettering his previous best Saturday performance by one place – having outpaced Jorge Lorenzo in Q1. Crucially, Petrucci's fastest time was identical to countryman Valentino Rossi. The nine-time world champion gained third thanks to a faster second time.
What's more, upon learning of his qualifying feat, Petrucci felt the front of the second row would be sufficient to ensure he was the best-placed satellite rider. Unfortunately for him, Hector Barbera's fine second fastest time meant he was not.
“It's been a positive weekend,” began Petrucci. “Since yesterday we've been competitive until the final seconds of FP3 – the moments that count, because it's like a pre-qualifying. I miss the top ten by one tenth. We were always in the top ten, the top eight. It's OK because when you find Crutchlow or Lorenzo in Q1, you know it will be very difficult. Anyway, it was a nice fight. I qualified in the last lap.
“Then in Q2 I use the tyre from Q1 and then my last tyre. The balance of the bike was OK but here it's difficult to understand. It's a very flowing track and it's difficult to understand the one or two extra kilometres that give you half a tenth. Here the gap is very close and half a tenth can be one row.
“I have to say I'm happy. When I cross the chequered flag I saw 'P4' and I imagine I was the first independent. When I saw the big screen Barbera [was ahead] I say, 'Shit!' The main thing when I arrive to the pit box was I saw I had the same time as Valentino. That was the second arrow out of my bow. I'll never be happy!
“But it's tomorrow that counts. I have to say thanks to Valentino because we ride a lot. We have the same lap time in race distance. He helped me a lot this morning and this afternoon. This afternoon he stayed behind me to watch. In the end it doesn't matter than Ducati is longer. If it was 4cm longer I'd have stayed in front!”
A known wet-weather specialist, Petrucci was adamant that his hopes were for dry weather on Sunday in spite of a bleak weather forecast.
“I hope tomorrow it is dry. Sincerely I want to be there for at least half the race, to see how the riders do it at the front of the pack. If it's wet for sure everyone will say 'It's raining!' [mimics receiving a lot of attention]. And I will say, 'I know, we are wet!' anyway, I'm happy. The team is doing a great job. I have half of the km of the others. The last two races we found a good rhythm. Maybe now I return to the level I had in the preseason test in Malaysia and Phillip Island.”