Valentino Rossi happy to be on front row at Laguna Seca

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Valentino Rossi says it was crucial that he qualified on the front row of the grid for the today’s American GP to have any hope of competing with dominant world title rival Casey Stoner.

Stoner has been in untouchable form throughout the weekend and he easily claimed his fifth successive pole position to set up a potential fourth straight win.

Fiat Yamaha rider Rossi though was happy to be on the front row in second place and he said: “For sure it will be very important to make a good start, because now we are on the first row, so it is a good point and a good place to start.

"We have to have a good start and after we see what happens, because we have a quite good pace, I’m quite fast but it’s a long race, very difficult for the tyres and also for many riders because this track doesn’t have any moment to relax.

"I’m pleased with this result and I think we’ve done a good job today. This morning, even though it was very cold, we were able to make some good steps forward, especially with the suspension setting, and I was able to be quite fast.

"This afternoon we were able to do a long simulation and this was very important to help us understand how the tyres will be tomorrow. Second place is good for us and I think we’ve done a lot better in the practice this weekend than we have in the last couple of races, so I’m happy about this.

"Casey is very fast and I don’t know exactly how to beat him – maybe I need to start 30 seconds earlier! Whatever happens a good start is going to be very important and then I will just try to stay with him and keep pushing.”

Rossi has never won at Laguna Seca and he said the target will be to better his previous best result of third back in 2005.

He added: “It is not one of my favourite tracks, but when the setting and the tyres work it is a lot more easy compared to the past. And I try to improve my best result, which was third from the first year. I think this year we have the potential to make a good race.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt