Franco Morbidelli has claimed his best MotoGP finish since returning from injury at last month’s first Misano race, despite a seven-place drop from his starting position. 

The Monster Energy Yamaha rider put together a brilliant FP3 in order to gain direct access to Saturday’s Q2, a session in which he qualified seventh - making him just the second Yamaha rider to out-qualify 2021 world champion and current team-mate Fabio Quartararo this year - Maverick Vinales being the other. 

But despite being Yamaha’s top qualifier at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, Morbidelli was unable to maintain a top ten spot due to limited physical conditions.

The first few laps saw the Italian actually gain a position and lead a six rider group of Luca Marini, Alex Rins, Quartararo, Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco, but although Morbidelli looked comfortable and able to keep a consistent pace, that all changed during the second and third phase of the race.

As soon as Marini got through on his fellow Sky VR46 rider, Morbidelli then lost another four positions in the space of one lap, before eventually finishing 42 seconds down on race winner Marc Marquez - only Takaaki Nakagami finished behind him after crashing on lap seven.

But even after the drop in positions, it was still Morbidelli’s best showing since returning from a knee injury suffered at Le Mans, a weekend where ‘we improved a lot’. 

Speaking after the race, Morbidelli added: "I’m happy with the overall performance that we had this weekend. We improved a lot. 

"We improved the feeling with the bike and for sure my condition was better. 

"I was able to be much faster in the first part of the race, but unfortunately I’m not fit enough for this kind of racing, I’m not fit enough to maintain this kind of pace throughout an entire race. 

"I needed to slow down and cruise around during the last part of the race unfortunately. 

"But we did some really positive steps this weekend which makes me happy."