Valentino Rossi slumps to lowly eighth

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Valentino Rossi couldn’t hide his disappointment or frustration after he qualified in a lowly eighth place for tomorrow’s Australian MotoGP race at Phillip Island.

The nine-times world champion encountered numerous issues in this afternoon’s qualifying session to leave him on the third row of the grid with a best time of 1.31.627.

That was 1.520s behind Casey Stoner’s impressive pole time of 1.30.107 with Rossi facing a tough task in tomorrow’s 27-lap race.

He’ll need a repeat of the heroics he displayed just six days ago in Malaysia when he came from 11th to win at Sepang.

But with Stoner looking in ominous form, Rossi admitted his victory hopes were already looking slim.

The Fiat Yamaha rider said:

“It was quite a bad practice and unfortunately at the end I had a lot of bad luck. With the first tyre I had (Aleix) Espargaro on the line when I had a red helmet in the first section.

"And with the second tyre unfortunately (Nicky) Hayden crashed in front of me and his bike remained in the centre of the track. And when I try for the last lap it started to rain. So unfortunately I cannot do a real attempt for the qualifying.

"If not I think I can stay with Colin (Edwards) and (Ben_ Spies. Anyway, we are not very fast and it is important to start in front but we have to start from eighth. We have to improve also the setting and try to make better tomorrow and see what happens.”

Rossi’s issues with his factory YZR-M1 were linked to acceleration, his bike nervous as he exited the fast and sweeping corners at Phillip Island.

He told MCN:  “I have a lot of problem in acceleration. The bike is always moving too much. I always to have to fight very much when I open the throttle and I am not strong enough.”

Rossi has only missed the podium once in his entire career at Phillip Island.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt