Valentino Rossi remains confident that he can claim an incredible eighth successive MotoGP victory in Mugello, despite missing out on a front row start in qualifying this afternoon.
The Fiat Yamaha rider will start from fourth on the grid for the third successive race as a best time of 1.49.148 was just 0.027s off a front row.
Rossi, who starts tomorrow’s 23-lap race a single point adrift of in-form team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, was 0.161s slower than the Spaniard, who celebrated his second pole position in the last three races with another impressive display.
Rossi though seemed largely unflustered in the Mugello paddock tonight, particularly given his fast pace on Bridgestone’s hard compound race tyres.
The Italian hero, roared on by a massive army of fans in gloriously sunny conditions today, said: “I am still happy because with the race setting and the hard tyres I was fastest. Jorge had a good pace but I was a bit faster than him and in all the practice I was in front and I was sure I’d have the potential to fight for the pole position or minimum the first row.
"I was fast with the softer tyre but not enough and I only missed out by one tenth so it’s nothing. But in the good lap I lose over a tenth in T3 and this small mistake cost me the front row. It’s a pity because we are in Mugello and for me it is important to start from the front row. It’s also three races in a row that I haven’t been on the front row and we need to improve something for qualifying and the soft tyre. But I am fast with the hard tyres and I’m happy about the setting of the bike though I have some details to improve but I’m competitive and sure I can make a good race.”
Rossi inadvertently contributed to his downfall in missing the front row as compatriot Loris Capirossi towed the eight-times world champion’s Yamaha YZR-M1 to claim a shock third for Suzuki.
Rossi said: “I pulled Loris behind me but at the end I was in a difficult situation. I had just six minutes for two laps, so I decided not to slow down and in the end it was the wrong decision because Loris beat me and I have to start from the second row. I hoped he was not fast enough to come with me but he was also a little bit faster because his ideal time was pole position.
"So I don’ want to say it’s all because I pulled Loris. I pulled him and gave him a small help, but at the same time he was fast and he was on the front row. To start third is better than fourth but I had just six minutes and if I slowed down I don’t think it was possible to make two laps. I decided to push but it was the wrong decision.”