Marquez began the day behind only Marco Bezzecchi in the morning, before lapping 0.335s from the other VR46 Ducati of Luca Marini in the faster afternoon session.

That easily secured the eight-time world champion direct access to Saturday’s Qualifying 2.

But he expects to ‘suffer’ as the usual frontrunners continue to find more speed as the weekend goes on.

“It was a good day for us. When we arrive at a new layout, I’m one of the riders that can quickly find the limit of the track,” Marquez said.

“In the morning it was better. In the afternoon we started to suffer a little bit more [as the grip improved] and I predict that tomorrow we will suffer even more than today.

“I will do my 100% [but] I think we will come back to our realistic area [tomorrow].

"The target is to try to be on the first three rows and in the Sprint race if we can be in the top ten.”

Nonetheless, with team-mate Joan Mir in tenth, it was Repsol Honda’s strongest Friday of the season.

“It’s because it’s a new circuit,” Marquez repeated to, ruling out any sudden technical progress on the RC213V.

“I’m riding with the same bike as Portimao, just some difference with the set-up.

"And Joan Mir has a super talent, is a world champion, and when we arrive at a new racetrack also the grip is low.

“It's also true that I don’t think it’s our real positions [today] because there were many laps cancelled due to yellow flags.

“We were very lucky because we did our times together behind Bezzecchi but on the last lap many riders were going faster but had their laps cancelled.”