That came in final practice, before the knife-edge nature of a MotoGP qualifying session saw the Italian slip back to 24th and last.

“I'm happy about my pace in FP4 because I was in the mix, but then it was much more difficult in qualifying,” Petrucci said.

“First attempt I was behind Darryn Binder and I was comfortably riding ‘32.0. So I thought, ‘OK, put a new tyre and I’ll go 31.0’. I did a lap alone, [pushing to the maximum] and not breathing until Turn 9!

"I thought, ‘this is a flying lap, a perfect lap and… ‘31.6. F**k!’

“My target was to not finish last. I missed that by two or three tenths, but it doesn’t matter. I'm more positive for the race tomorrow and I still hope it will rain because my physical condition is terrible!

“In Superbike, the bike is good, but the brakes are not so good. The corner speed and acceleration is less. So I was fit for Superbikes, but [not] MotoGP. Then I chose the worst race to come back, because this track was terrible [for the heat] even when I was 100% fit.

“I'm positive. I think we can have fun, if you call it fun to suffer for 45-minutes!”

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‘The more tired you get, the faster you’ll go’

Petrucci’s fatigue isn’t all bad news, with the team saying tiredness will probably make him quicker, because it’ll force him to be smoother on the bike.

“My crew chief said, ‘the more tired you get with this bike, the faster you’ll go'. Because you need to ride this bike smoothly. Also, the other [Suzuki] riders said when they get tired, they are still able to ride fast.

“So I said ‘Okay, well after 5 laps I get tired, so we maybe we can win the race!” he joked. “If it’s a race [all about] tiredness, I can win!’

“Anyway, it's good. I'm so happy to work with this team. Everyone is so professional and I like the bike a lot. It's such a different bike.”

Petrucci: Rins carrying 'incredible speed' inside the corner

The biggest difference between the Suzuki and Petrucci’s previous Ducati and KTM MotoGP machines is in corner speed.

“You need to not be slow inside the corner, to carry the speed and don't let the bike slide in the middle of the corner,” Petrucci explained.

“For me the worst corner is turn one, because it's a mix of braking and acceleration and I cannot mix the two of them. Because sometimes I brake later and I go with too much load on the front and I lose the acceleration.

“But in the same time when I try to do [brake] earlier, then in the middle of the corner I lose the rear with the throttle. And Alex was carrying an incredible speed inside the corner and can open the throttle later and softer, and he's able to pick up the bike.

“I'm always a little bit earlier on the throttle because I'm little bit slower inside the corner, but it doesn't help me at all. It's completely another style.”

Although Petrucci wasn’t able to extract the most from the bike over a single lap, he also isn’t suffering a significant tyre performance drop on longer runs.

“I did a ‘32.1 with the 10 laps tyre from this morning and ‘31.6 with a new fresh tyre,” he said. “I'm quite happy because, yeah, [I] cannot use the tyre [for a flying lap], but at least the tyre lasts for all the race, I think.

Why are the Ducatis so strong in qualifying?

Sunday’s race will begin with six Ducatis in the top seven places. So why does the Desmosedici, which Petrucci took to two MotoGP wins in 2019 and 2020, make such a big step in qualifying?

“From what I understood, because I am not riding the Ducati since 2020, but I was struggling already at that time when the change of [rear tyre] carcass happened between ‘19 and ’20,” Petrucci replied.

“It was all about the braking and using the rear tyre to stop the bike.

“Now you cannot see the [Ducati] pitching a lot on the front because the bike is always very, very, very flat – this is from what I see from the outside because now I'm a fan, watching the races like you.

“I think now it's really a good bike, the Ducati - it's not me saying this, but the results - and especially on the flying lap, they can use a lot of [rear] traction. Maybe they consume more tyre, you need to be more careful, but they can use a lot of grip, both on entry and exit of the corner.

“It’s what you need for that bike, but also the KTM.

“I think this bike [Suzuki] is really, really good, but you need to understand how to use it. And in just one race weekend, not even a test, so you don't have a lot of chance to try different things.

“Anyway, everything has happened so quickly. The other guys are racing with these bikes for 17 races. I haven’t even done 17 hours, so I'm happy.”