After struggling to 18th in the Saturday Sprint, the Monster Yamaha star made big changes for Sunday morning.

A competitive fourth fastest on the smaller fairing and older bike set-up in warm-up convinced the Frenchman to stick with it for the race.

The aftermath of the first lap accidents eliminated some key frontrunners from the restart, but after a strong opening lap Quartararo was able to pass Marc Marquez, Fabio di Giannantonio and Jack Miller to finish in the wheeltracks of sixth place Alex Marquez (Gresini Ducati).

“For me, it was a good day,” Quartararo said. “Especially, we went back to last year's bike, last year's base.

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“It was not really the first time, but basically on Friday and Saturday we changed a lot. Every exit I did was with a different bike, different setup, different weight balance.

“This morning we decided to go with last year's base and my feeling was better. We used it for the race and it was I think a good step.

“I could make a great pace and that's it. There was a 10-second gap to the front guy today. Yesterday, with half the laps, we finished 17 seconds behind, so I think it was not too bad.”

On the specific benefits of running the smaller aerodynamic package, last year's Catalunya race winner said:

“Having big wings means also you have to use more power, and having smaller wings was a good idea, especially on this track. Maybe Misano I think we will go back to the big wings.

“But I think it was great to compare the aero package on the same track and to be sure to have more information about how it's working in the braking, on lean angle, on the edge, so I think it was great to do it.”

Marc Marquez was the next best rider on a Japanese bike, in 13th, with Quartararo’s team-mate Franco Morbidelli 14th.