The last qualifying Saturday of the 2021 season testifies to Suzuki's progress in what this season has been a real thorn in the side for Hamamatsu's bikes. Both Spanish riders have had a good pace since FP4: Joan Mir immediately made it into Q2, while his teammate had to wait to get through Q1, which he dominated by celebrating with a couple of liberating wheelies. The final qualifying sees the two Suzukis on the second row, fourth and sixth respectively, four-tenths of a second from a front row dominated by Ducati.
"I am very satisfied with today's result - the defending champion Joan Mir told us - we knew we had room for improvement compared to free practice and there was. I managed to find a good feeling with the bike and I think I can end the season with a good race. I don't ask for anything better to be able to start the 2022 season with the right energy. "
It seems that the Suzuki on this track has its strengths, will the choice of tyres tip the scales in its favour?
"I think the Suzuki is very strong on many tracks, obviously today's result is a great sign for the whole team. As for the tyres, I think the choice will be easier than expected. As far as I'm concerned, I think the soft wears out too fast, so it will be a choice between the medium and hard compound, we will also decide on the basis of tomorrow's temperatures ".
In the last few races it seems that the Suzuki has made great strides in terms of qualifying, have you found a solution that works or is it the result of chance and favourable circuits?
"Already from Aragon onwards, going to Misano, we realized that one of the biggest problems we had was keeping the new tyres up to temperature during qualifying. Now it seems that we have found a solution to this problem, but let's not forget that the new version of device was fundamental for these results. "
Today Quartararo lapped with the new TV camera on his shoulder, did you see the video? Did you notice anything interesting from his perspective?
"That camera could show a lot of interesting things. To be honest I haven't seen anything in particular, but in the future probably having this kind of perspective could help a lot. If it were up to me though, I'd rather see only those of the others."
Tomorrow there will be three Ducatis on the front row, do you already have any strategies to try and fight for the win?
"It won't be easy. We have to be realistic, the Ducati has shown an incredible growth this year, almost brutal I would dare to say, I will probably have to try to ride in a different way to smooth out the differences."
Would it be fair to say that with Suzuki's current package, after the improvements, you could have fought more for the title?
"For sure with some improvements, the device is the most striking example, we could have fought more evenly in the first half of the season, but we cannot fail to recognize the right merits to Fabio throughout the season".
Alex Rins: eight Ducatis on the grid in 2022
"It's nice to be back on the second row - Alex said - even if I can’t hide a bit of frustration at not being able to improve my best time even more. I think I did an incredible flying lap using the hard on the rear, but then when I mounted the soft tyre I had two yellow flags. The race pace for tomorrow is really good anyway, I have good feelings. "
Do you already have some strategy for tomorrow's race?
"The pace is good, the problem is that the others have a good pace too, especially the Ducatis, the front row is theirs. I'll try to get a good start but a lot will also depend on what the Ducatis allow me to do - he replied jokingly - it will not be easy".
The Suzuki seems to have improved a lot in qualifying, and next season there will be eight Ducatis on the starting grid, this could be one more obstacle, what do you think?
"The last few tracks have been favourable for Suzuki, but honestly if we go back to Qatar tomorrow things won't be much easier than they have been in the past. For sure next year we will have even more Ducatis, I think five 2022 official bikes and another three from this season, and we are talking about very competitive bikes, could be an additional obstacle next season. The work to be done starting from the next tests will be very demanding ".