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Needing to win on Sunday to have any hope of overhauling Francesco Bagnaia’s 23-point advantage, Quartararo was quickest in FP1 and remained on top for large parts of FP2.

Only Luca Marini was eventually able to move ahead on used rubber, but the appearance of new soft tyres once again propelled multiple Ducati riders into the mix, plus the likes of Marc Marquez (Honda) and Miguel Oliveira (KTM).

When the chequered flag waved Quartararo had been pushed back to eighth place, but still only 0.225s from the top and just ahead of Bagnaia.

“A good day, especially on the pace,” Quartararo said. “This morning and this afternoon the pace was really good.

“We can improve a few things with these wings, like I said, but on the pace I think we are really strong. For sure some riders made one lap faster but every lap I was pushing like hell and not doing one mistake.

“We have a little bit of margin in some areas for the pace. But I feel pretty good, riding much better than last year [here].

“I’m happy because this afternoon with 16 laps on the tyre I was doing a 31.3, 31.2. I’m confident for tomorrow.

“I have said to all my team, my friends that in this race I go ‘all-in’. Whatever happens we will all have fun on Sunday night. Of course, I am not leaving here without trying…”

Meanwhile, the sight of five Ducatis ahead of him on new tyres hadn’t been a surprise.

“It’s one full year I’m used to this. When they put that soft tyre for just a few laps they have an extra grip that we don’t have. Extra power, for sure, also,” he said.

Quartararo’s Sepang finger fracture continues to be an annoyance.

“I took care of the finger but it’s bent and using the holeshot device on this track is really difficult,” he said. “Also I had a bad injury when I was young on the wrist, so I cannot move it and [now] the finger is sore [as well].

“We are trying to figure out if we can make something on the bike tomorrow.”

Bagnaia – who only needs to finish in the top 14 even if Quartararo wins – was 17th in FP1 before recovering to ninth in the afternoon.

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