Rossi Third Fastest in Italy as Checa Takes Fourth Row Start After a sun-drenched final qualifying session at Mugello, Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi will start from the front row tomorrow for the third time this season. ...
Rossi Third Fastest in Italy as Checa Takes Fourth Row Start
After a sun-drenched final qualifying session at Mugello, Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi will start from the front row tomorrow for the third time this season. His team-mate Carlos Checa experienced a small problem at the end of the session and finished eleventh fastest. An interruption to the final qualifying session when Kurtis Roberts' Proton crashed and caught fire did not help any of the 24 MotoGP riders, causing a delay until track repairs were carried out and the final eight minutes of qualifying could be completed.
The unofficial morning practice session saw Rossi fastest and Checa second fastest, as they continued to work on finding an ideal race set-up. This afternoon the vast majority of the field were yet to improve on their own personal Friday best before the trackside fire incident, but a late flurry of activity once the session was restarted saw almost the entire field, including Rossi and Checa, improve their times. Valentino's new best sits at 1'49.926, with Checa on 1'50.858. Pole position, thanks to his Friday time of 1'49.553, went to Honda rider Sete Gibernau, while Nicky Hayden (Honda, 1'49.922) surprised most observers with a leap to second in the last moments of the session, edging Rossi out to third by only 0.004 seconds.
VALENTINO ROSSI (1'49,926, 3rd)
"Unfortunately Sete has been in front of me during all the practice but we worked a lot on the bike today and we improved the feeling with the machine and the rhythm. The race tomorrow will be very hard because Sete is also fast in his lap-by-lap rhythm. We hope for everyone that we can have good weather for the race. I am very surprised about Hayden because Sete and I had been the fastest over most of the two days, Nicky did really well. It will be very hard to decide on the right tyres for tomorrow. Apart from the racing, some people have been asking about my helmet design. In Italy we have a joke that if you come fourth you get a wooden medal; after 23 podiums in a row I arrived fourth for the last two races, so we decided to make a wooden-looking helmet design with a four on the front!"
CARLOS CHECA (1'50.858, 11th)
"We can get a good lap time with the race tyres but with the soft tyres fitted we got held up by the Roberts crash. Afterwards the bike had a problem and I had no chance to improve my lap time. At the moment in time when I had the chance to improve I didn't feel right and when I was ready I did not have the opportunity. We will make another step tomorrow and I hope and the race set-up is OK."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- GAULOISES FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"For Valentino it is very good that he could start from the front row. We hope it is going to be dry and I believe then he will be in a fight and we'll have to wait and see how that goes. I am sorry that he had some problems at the end; he went a little bit faster than yesterday but he did not get the chance on his final hot lap, and he was on course to improve. It's a pity because his pace is good and tomorrow he will have the difficulty of starting from the fourth row. He will have to work hard to pass many riders in the first few laps tomorrow!"