Johann Zarco has admitted he was not “relaxed enough” to piece the perfect qualifying lap together, but was nonetheless pleased with his Saturday efforts after posting the sixth fastest time in MotoGP Q2.

The Frenchman was fast throughout the day, setting a sensational pace in FP3 with Michelin’s soft rear tyre fitted, before showing the potential to qualify on the front row in the afternoon. Instead, sixth will suffice.

“Happy about the qualifying,” he said. “Sixth place is good. It’s the main target, to be on the first two rows. It’s the key to start the race well and catch a good position. In qualifying the strategy was good, to wait a little bit in the box and use only one tyre. Just I was not relaxed enough to do the perfect lap.

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“I was not able to take Marquez’s lap time – this 1m 23.2s. But a 1m 23.5s was possible, so the first row was possible. I just needed to control better the bike and be more relaxed in this hot moment, like the qualifying. That was this afternoon.

“In the morning, we did many laps and I was fast and constant. That’s a good sign for the race. We could try different things in free practice [4], see that it didn’t work or it did to have as much information as possible for tomorrow.”

“[I used the soft in FP3.] I tried the medium too but I think we saw in free practice, even the top riders, that with the soft rear, they are more constant and faster. It looks like the option for the race but I think the temperature of the asphalt and the temperature tomorrow will make the difference for the choice.

“We have something to test in warm-up. Warm-up is not the best way to test something but because we feel comfortable, we feel good, we can test and if this change makes me even more comfortable to be constant, so why not keep it for the race.”

On where pole sitter Marc Marquez is making the difference this weekend, he said, “He’s controlling perfectly the bike. Really, I think, the way he’s playing with the front tyre and the front of the bike gives him the possibility to then have a very good exit and use very well the engine. That’s where he’s making the difference.

“He’s able to try things that even if he can crash, he will not. Like, another rider if he tried the same thing, he would crash. Marquez is able to catch this crash. That’s why he has one more step, one more option to do things.”