Fabio Quartararo battled back after a disastrous start to the inaugural Indian MotoGP to clinch his spot in Qualifying 2 on the factory Monster Energy Yamaha.
The French rider was hit by gearbox issues in FP1, with Quartararo's two M1 machines encountering the same problem.
He only completed 10 laps in the morning at the Buddh International Circuit, when track time on Friday was vital at a completely new venue for MotoGP.
Quartararo was languishing in 19th position but the 2021 world champion impressively knuckled down in the 70-minute session in the afternoon, completing 29 laps and finishing inside the all-important top 10 in eighth, half-a-second off Luca Marini's session-topping benchmark.
“The day didn't start super good,” Quartararo said. “I only completed about nine laps in the morning, so to learn this difficult track in the afternoon was not easy.
“Physically the track is not very tough, it's just the heat. I had to get straight into the game and we achieved our goal of getting straight into Q2, so it was a pretty good day.
“Hopefully we can fight for a spot on the front three rows tomorrow and fight for a great result in the Sprint.”
Franco Morbidelli – confirmed at Pramac Ducati for 2024 alongside Jorge Martin – was called into the pits as a precaution but the problem was resolved in time for the afternoon session, with team director Massimo Meregalli confirming the issue was transmission-related.
“We lost a lot of time due to an issue related to transmission,” he said.
“The problem was completely fixed for the afternoon session, but it did mean we had a lot of work to catch up on.
“Fabio took well to the track and, despite the time we lost, he still managed to secure a spot in Q2.
“Franky made a good step too, considering the time he had, but in the end it was not enough for a place in Q2. We will have to work this evening to go over the data we collected in order to prepare setting tweaks for tomorrow's FP2,” Meregalli added.
“We want to make the most of the available track time so our riders feel ready for qualifying and the Sprint.
“The track conditions will improve every session and we expect to get stronger as the grip increases, as that plays into our hands.”
Morbidelli was 14th, missing out on a place in Q2, and bemoaned the lack of a tow to help improve his time in the afternoon.
“It was very hot out there. Apart from this, it was a good day,” he said.
“I had good speed with used tyres and also in the first time attack. But things didn't work out for us later on.
“Many rivals were able to improve. I improved a little, step by step, time attack by time attack, but it was not enough.
“I think I rode alone a bit too much today. I was confident in my own speed and didn't get a tow. I think that would have been really helpful to get into the top 10.”