Valentino Rossi has stunned the MotoGP field by pulling pole position for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix out of nowhere, coming from well down the field to demote Marc Marquez and teammate Jorge Lorenzo to second and third.
Marquez has been the man to beat all weekend, but both an error and a yellow flag on his two fast lap attempts of qualifying gave the Italian the advantage. Rossi was able to pull out not one but two flying laps to make sure he ended the day well clear of the Honda rider.
“We were struggling during this weekend to find the right balance and I‘m also not a 100% fit, I‘m suffering physically, I‘m not feeling fantastic. In FP4 we improved the balance of the bike a lot and I did a very good lap and great braking in turn 11 and that was good. Starting from pole is always important and now we wait for tomorrow.”
Marquez finished second ahead of an impressive performance for the injured Lorenzo after a fast highside this morning, with Andrea Dovizioso heading up the second row from Cal Crutchlow and Aleix Espargaró.
Scott Redding was 11th, ahead of Bradley Smith in 15th and Eugene Laverty in 19th, with both of them pleased with their performance given the injuries the pair are nursing.