Franco Morbidelli feels he’s making progress up the ranks in MotoGP but concedes each step is not happening as quickly as he would like alongside Petronas Yamaha team-mate Fabio Quartarao.

The Italian rider has been largely overshadowed by the MotoGP rookie of the year on the other side of his team garage with the same fate occurring during qualifying at Sepang.

After the pair shared two top spots each across the four practice sessions ahead of the Malaysian MotoGP, Morbidelli briefly held provisional pole position before losing out to Quartararo while he was pushed back to third place by Monster Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales who split the Petronas Yamaha duo.

But with his fourth front row start of the season, completing an all-Yamaha lockout in qualifying for the first time since Le Mans 2017, Morbidelli feels he’s steadily improving with his M1 package.

“I am a guy who likes to take it step by step and consolidate every step that I do. In MotoGP it is quite tricky and difficult so I am trying to improve every time I go on track,” Morbidelli explained.

“With our team we are working very well together so we managed to do that. Of course the steps are not too fast but they are there. This is the important thing.

“Strangely we struggled on Sunday at Phillip Island and I was having many things in my mind after that. But then we started this weekend straightaway with another pace compared to Phillip Island.

“I think we are where we finished in Japan so that’s a positive thing. I feel great on the bike this weekend and I feel strong so we will have to see what I can do tomorrow.”

Morbidelli remains 10th in the MotoGP riders’ standings and 28 points behind Cal Crutchlow in ninth place in the championship with two rounds to go starting at Sepang before the Valencia finale.

 

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