Rossi returns to front row as Lorenzo just misses out in Japan Valentino Rossi made a happy return to the front row for the first time since his mid-season injury today, with a brilliant display in an entertaining Motegi qualifying session. His...
Rossi returns to front row as Lorenzo just misses out in Japan
Valentino Rossi made a happy return to the front row for the first time since his mid-season injury today, with a brilliant display in an entertaining Motegi qualifying session. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate and championship leader Jorge Lorenzo was equally consistent but just missed out on the front row, the first time this season that he has qualified outside the top three.
Reigning World Champion Rossi has been in much better shape this weekend and was feeling confident after topping the time sheets yesterday afternoon. He was third this morning and determined to get back on the front row this afternoon, making the most of his upgraded M1 engine and remaining inside the top four for the entire session. As he headed out for his final run he was sitting in fourth but an excellent final lap lifted him up two places and he finished the session just 0.054 seconds off maiden pole-sitter Andrea Dovizioso.
Lorenzo had his first chance to use the new engine this afternoon and the 23-year-old seemed to be feeling its effects immediately, as he was a few tenths ahead of his rivals in the early stages. Quick laps from Dovizioso and Casey Stoner later on relegated him to third however and, despite improving his time on several occasions towards the end he was unable to catch them and was bumped to fourth when Rossi put in his quick lap. Lorenzo, who signed a new two-year contract with Yamaha this weekend, will start from the head of the second row when the race gets underway at 1500 Japanese time tomorrow.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 2ndTime: 1'47.055Laps: 27
"It is a good feeling to be back on the front row after so long, the last time was at Le Mans, before the Mugello crash! We have improved in every area here, firstly we have made a big step with our setting, then we have the new engine from Yamaha which is enabling us to push more and be faster on the straights, plus we also have slightly harder Bridgestone tyres here than in Aragon and they are working better for me. As I said yesterday I expected to suffer more with the shoulder but I am feeling quite good and when I brake in a straight line here I don't have too much pain. I am so happy about all of this. This front row is going to be very important for tomorrow, we really hope for good weather and let's see what we can do."
Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 4thTime: 1'47.206Laps: 27
"I am a little disappointed because this wasn't the result we were expecting. I would have really liked to be on the front row here in Japan, Yamaha's home, after signing with them for two more years this morning. However it's only qualifying and the most important thing is that we're ready for the race, we have a good pace and we only have one or two more small things still to work on. This afternoon I tried the new engine for the first time and it felt good in the high gears. This is the first time for me this season on the second row, but I am still close to the front and I will try to make the best start I can. The forecast for tomorrow isn't the best so we have to be prepared for rain...let's hope not though!"
Davide Brivio - Team Manager
"It's really nice to be back on the first row. We've had two good days and three strong sessions so we are feeling happy in our team. Valentino was very close to pole position and things are looking good for us to be in with a chance tomorrow. The weather is a question mark, some rain is expected and we will have to wait and see what the temperature is like before making a final tyre decision, but we're excited about the race."
Wilco Zeelenberg - Team Manager
"Despite missing out on the front row for the first time this was a good session for us. Jorge's race pace is very strong, we just weren't able to put everything together to make one perfect lap. However we are only in fourth and his rhythm is very consistent and fast so it's not a drama for us. He used the new engine for the first time and it's feeling good for him, he had to make a few small adjustments but it's definitely an improvement."