Valentino Rossi has paid credit to Fabio Quartararo on his historic MotoGP pole position as the Petronas Yamaha squad swept to a qualifying 1-2 with Franco Morbidelli and feels “they are faster than me, they rider in a better way” at Jerez.

Quartararo has become the youngest-ever pole-sitter in MotoGP after bolting to the Spanish GP pole on the satellite Yamaha run by the new-look Sepang Racing Team who went on to enjoy the perfect qualifying with Morbidelli slotting into second place.

With the Petronas Yamaha riders taking the top two spots and out-qualifying the factory Yamaha pair of Rossi (13th) and Maverick Vinales (fifth), Rossi says the overall result came as a surprise but not the speed of both riders at the Spanish track.

“I am surprised like everybody that they are one and two, but not surprised about the level of Franco who I know very well, and also Quartararo because from the winter test they were fast on the bike and they liked the bike,” Rossi said.

“Here in Jerez they were strong in all practices and today they took the masterpiece as they are first and second so congratulations to them.

“Maybe they are better than me, they are faster than me, they ride in a better way, they like more Jerez in the last few years.

“For me Jerez has been difficult but it will be important to work tonight as I am not very strong in some areas but if we work well and can improve a little bit my pace is not so bad and I am not so far from them.”

Rossi has dismissed the idea of Quartararo having a better package despite being on the older specification Yamaha, which became a frequent theme last year when Johann Zarco would often out-qualify the factory Yamahas when competing for Tech 3.

Instead, Rossi puts the pace deficit over a single lap down to the riders and in particular Quartararo’s own ability at Jerez despite it being the rookie’s fourth premier class outing.

“From what I know the bike of Quartararo is very similar and it is not like Zarco [in 2018],” he explained. “The four bikes are all very similar. I know that Franco is a little bit more factory with more parts but in the end for Quartararo the chassis is the same.

“He rides very well and is able to enter the corner very naturally. In that area I don’t feel very comfortable, I improved on yesterday but I am not fantastic, so we need to work on us.”

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