Valentino Rossi says that set-up changes made during the previous MotoGP round at Barcelona have proven instrumental in his return to qualifying form at Assen.
The Yamaha rider clinched a sensational pole position for the Dutch TT, his first since last year’s Valencia finale and his front row start of a season in which he has struggled for one-lap pace.
Explaining the reasons for his turnaround, Rossi credited set-up changes made to the bike two weeks ago in Catalunya, as well as the introduction of a new frame by Yamaha in private testing at Aragon.
"At Barcelona, for me something changed – we made a step," revealed the 36-year-old in the post-qualifying press conference.
"From Saturday [at the previous race], we decided to modify the balance of the bike quite a lot, and straight away I felt a lot better and I had better pace.
"And in testing at Aragon we continue with good speed, and we try the new chassis from Yamaha, which is very good for me.
"So from yesterday I was already competitive, my speed was already good, and you can work in a better way and arrive in qualifying faster and stronger.
"My target was the first row, but for sure the pole position is a special thing."
Lorenzo can still be a factor
Rossi also believes that Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo – who starts down in eighth place for Saturday’s race – is likely to be a factor at the front of the field despite his subdued qualifying pace.
"Starting from behind is always difficult. You have to be strong from the first corner, but also you have to be lucky," said the Italian.
"Tomorrow Jorge will do a very good race, because he’s so competitive. At the end of practice he did a very good pace with a used tyre, so he can fight to win the race.
"And if we look at what Marc [Marquez] did at Mugello, he started from the fifth row and after three corners he was second or third."