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Morbidelli: It started pretty bad, ended pretty good…

Franco Morbidelli enjoys a dramatic change of fortunes on Saturday, from a bruising crash at 192kph to a place on the front row…
Morbidelli: It started pretty bad, ended pretty good…

Franco Morbidelli was “very happy” at the outcome of Saturday as he recovered brilliantly from a “nasty, painful” morning fall to qualify on the front row for Sunday’s MotoGP outing at Montmeló.

The 24-year old was chasing a fast lap time (and mentor Valentino Rossi) late into FP3 when he high-sided through turn 13 at close to 120mph. Typically, Morbidelli shrugged it off, reminding the media he had suffered a quicker fall at this track in the past.

Even still, Morbidelli was nursing heavy bruising to his backside, lower back and elbow by the time FP4 came around. After setting the fifth fastest time there, he progressed through Q1 before qualifying fourth, a result that was improved by one place thanks to Maverick Viñales’ grid penalty.

“First of all I have to say thanks to the team,” said Morbidelli, now twice a front row qualifier in four races. “They were able to adjust the bike from FP3 to FP4 in a great way.

“This morning was really nasty and painful. I didn’t know what to expect from this afternoon. But anyway it came out a good FP and a good qualifying passing through Q1 so I’m just very happy about this day.”

Asked to expand on his FP3 fall, Morbidelli said, “It’s one of the heaviest [crashes] of my life. I high-sided at 192kph (119mph).

“But I’ve done that here because in 2017 I crashed at 200.4kph (124mph) in turn nine so maybe it didn’t scare me so much. But it was a big hit so we didn’t know what to expect this afternoon.

“Luckily the feeling was back quite soon and I felt quite good quite soon. Moreover in sector 4 I’m quite fast. It started pretty bad but it ended pretty good. I’m very happy about this day."

Most MotoGP riders commented on the deterioration of track conditions when compared to 2018, making tyre choice something of a lottery. Michelin even believes all six tyres (three front options and three rear) can be raced.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s 24-lap race that should take place in the punishing afternoon sun, Morbidelli offered, “We need to see how is the condition, how the bike will behave tomorrow.

“But you’re right, the pace has been good all weekend. We are confident. Now it’s just a matter of getting fixed good this evening with the Clinica and go to tomorrow’s race.

“It’s going to be a real test. Conditions are going to be very hot. Tyre choice is going to be very important. We will have to see and make the right choice and keep a good pace.”