Valentino Rossi reckons tomorrow’s Dutch MotoGP race at the historic Assen circuit could be another classic after a thrilling qualifying session saw the Italian claim pole position.
The 30-year-old, who could win his 100th Grand Prix in tomorrow’s 26-lap race, edged out Spaniard Dani Pedrosa to claim just his second pole position of the season.
Rossi clocked a best time of 1.36.025 to deny Pedrosa by 0.085s, though the Repsol Honda rider needed to follow the Italian’s YZR-M1 to claim a spot on the front row.
Rossi said: “It was a good practice from the beginning and we’ve tried a few different things and we put all together for this afternoon and I felt confident with the bike. My first run was fast with a race tyre although there are two or three points where it is possible to make better. When we started with the soft tyres it is always a great battle because Jorge (Lorenzo) Casey (Stoner) and today Dani are so strong with the soft tyre. It is difficult because in the last five or six minutes I have five or six riders waiting for me. This time I am able to make a clear lap but unfortunately I didn’t understand that Dani was behind and he made his good lap time. But 36.0 is a good level although pole position is just two-and-a-half metres of advantage for the race. Anyway to make the pole is a special taste. It is the second of the year but it is the first real pole because in Motegi there was a lot of rain and we started with the free practice time.”
Rossi, who starts tomorrow’s race level on 106-points with Fiat Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo and Aussie Stoner, who ended up fourth, said he expected a close battle.
“I was fast from the start but Jorge and Casey have a good pace. For me it looks that the Yamaha and Ducati with the mono tyre now that the level between us is more equal. Maybe its possible to see some other good races from now until the end of the season and also I think when Dani is fit and Honda can fix some problems with the entry into the corner then it’s possible they stay at the top also, “said Rossi.
The eight-times world champion is also convinced that he’s completely solved the front-end issues that dogged him during the opening part of the season.
He told MCN: “From the first race in Qatar when I finished the front tyre, afterwards I was not happy and without testing now it is difficult to solve a problem. And when I won in Jerez for us it was good for the 25-points but it also covered the problem because we thought it was fixed. We arrived in Le Mans sure of a good result but it was a disaster and from that moment we tried to work. We changed a lot on the fork and also the geometry to have more weight on the front and I feel now good like last year. We also changed the weight distribution and my position on the bike. In the first races I could only arrive at 95 per cent lean angle and every time I tried to go more to 100 per cent I lost the front. But with less practice and no tests it has been difficult to fix. Now though I’m happy and confident.”
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