Rossi To Start From Front Row at Sachsenring
Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa earned themselves a first and third row start respectively after an intense final qualifying session at Sachsenring today, with Rossi just missing out on pole position by 0.084 seconds.
Rossi, a winner of four MotoGP races so far this year, was one of the last riders to make significant improvements in his lap time from Friday, jumping into second place behind eventual pole position man Max Biaggi (Honda), thanks to a personal Sachsenring best of 1'22.840s. Such is the pace of improvement this season that almost one second has been taken off the circuit best lap time, a significant amount at this largely tight and twisty circuit.
For Checa, another late charger up the order today, seventh means a third row start, but the Catalan rider feels confident in his race set-up after much hard work in finding optimum settings to tackle the tricky Sachsen circuit. Checa's time of 1'23.336s was only 0.580 from pole, even though he lost time at more than one point on the 3.671km lap.
With no fewer than 14 riders within one second of Biaggi's pole time of 1'22.756s, final qualifying was a melee in the final few minutes, with four different manufacturers' machines represented in the top five starting positions.
VALENTINO ROSSI (2rd, 1'22.840)
"I made one little mistake at the last corner and lost some time. A 30-lap race with so many riders within one second of the pole time is going to be very hard. I expect it to be a big battle at the front. It's good to be on the front row especially as it's so difficult to overtake here. We've worked hard and solved some problems with the rear. For me Max has slightly better rhythm than me here and he will get a good start from pole. Tyre choice will be really important but I hope to have a good battle with Max. Because the Yamaha is quite difficult to slide here with the wider tyres, it feels wild, and I think I need a lion tamer!"
CARLOS CHECA (7th, 1'23.336)
"I am satisfied with the pace today, it was not bad at all. At the end with a soft tyre fitted, we lost some tenths and that was just enough to stop us from getting a starting position on the first or second row. Anyway we cannot expect to improve that much in one day, as everyone else is also pushing hard. For the race I know my limitations, I know it will be hard but we are not so far away. With a good start we can be competitive and we can stay inside the fight."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- TEAM DIRECTOR
"Final qualifying was better for us than the last races and for Valentino to start on the front row is really good. He has a very good pace and I believe we can be with all the other riders. There will be a lot of them close together at a track like this but with a good start Valentino can stay in front. Seventh was a good result for Carlos as there is so little time between the top riders here. He also has a good pace and I'm sure he can stay in the top places."