After a miserable Mugello, Valentino Rossi hailed a surprise Yamaha fightback on Saturday at the Catalunya MotoGP.

Honda's Marc Marquez (second) was the only rider to break the M1 domination at the front of the grid in qualifying, which ran from rookie star Fabio Quartararo on pole and ended with Rossi just 0.269s behind the Petronas rider in fifth.

"Today is a good day because I continue with a good speed and a good pace after yesterday and it looks like the Yamahas are competitive here, because we have four bikes in the top five and this is great, great news for us," said Rossi, speaking before being promoted to fourth on the grid by a penalty for Monster Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales.

"This morning was good, we are able to stay in the top ten. This afternoon with more temperature we suffered a bit more, but it looks like everybody suffered.

"Tyres will be crucial tomorrow. It will be key for a good race, because the choice is very open. In the rear for example it's open for all three tyres. So we need to concentrate and try to find the right combination for us and see what happens in the race."

Rossi had been beaming in the pit box after the opening Saturday session, when he set the fourth fastest time to comfortably seal direct access to Qualifying 2.

Told he looked genuinely happy after FP3, rather than a 'marketing smile', he quipped: "I have the marketing smile when I am desperate, usually!

"This morning I feel good, we made a very good plan and at the end I was fourth. So I was happy because it's very important to go directly to Qualifying 2 because in Qualifying 1 you have a lot of very fast riders so it's not easy and it's very difficult to manage the situation."

Managing low-grip track conditions will be the main task for riders in the race, with last year's new asphalt becoming a lot more dusty and slippery.

"Barcelona is like this for a long, long time," Rossi said. "Last year they made a new asphalt, good asphalt, so the track had grip. In fact the pole position was eight tenths faster last year but also the pace [is slower].

"It's incredible because in one year already the asphalt loses a lot of grip and we come back to the old situation.

"I don’t know why but Barcelona is like this. Usually, in my experience, you try to find the grip in Barcelona all weekend but you never find it. So you have to live with this and try to manage in acceleration.

"Anyway you have to start fast in the race and after you have to try to manage the grip until the end of the race."

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