Valentino Rossi will start from the front row for only the fourth time this year at tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix but his qualifying effort could be one of the pivotal moments of the season. Jorge Lorenzo has been incredibly strong all weekend and it has looked that he had the pace to once again have a trademark lights to flag victory but suddenly with Rossi in the mix the fight between the Yamaha riders should be much more intense.
"It is a good result because I am very close to Jorge," said Rossi. "He is always very strong in qualifying and also in this race track. The lap time was very fast, which means the bike improved a lot and we can ride at 100 per-cent.”
Rossi had struggled all weekend but a change of fortunes was noted in FP3, where he was fifth fastest before going second fastest in FP4.
“Today is a positive day for me because already in the morning we did a step and I was quite happy, but it wasn't enough and we did the most important step in the afternoon,” said Rossi. "We tried to control all the data and to make the right choice because now is so important and the bike worked a lot better. FP4 is always a very important practice to understand the pace that everyone will do in a race situation. I am happy because in the last two exits I was strong and my lap time was not so bad with the used tyre, which means that we can be strong.
When speaking about qualifying Rossi said:
"I started the qualifying very positively because I feel good with the bike and I think we did a good strategy; I was in the right place and especially when I saw 1'43.8 I thought it was enough for the pole and I saw the number 46 in first position, so I was very happy but when I arrived in parc ferme my mechanics said 'second.'"