MotoGP points leader Valentino Rossi admits that tomorrow’s third-row starting position is a “big problem” for him to keep his championship advantage intact.
The Italian bike-racing legend has worked hard to build a 13-point lead over Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, winning three times in 2015 and finishing every race on the podium.
But he could only manage eighth in qualifying on Saturday, and so starts Sunday’s 10th round of the championship from the middle of the third row – and fears a podium finish might be out of reach this time.
"Yesterday I was very slow and a bit worried, and we didn’t start with a good base setting,” said Rossi of his struggles this weekend. “Today the situation has improved, especially my pace is not so bad.
"I raised my level and my potential a lot, and also the life of the tyre is longer, but unfortunately in qualifying I wasn’t strong enough to start from the second row.
“I hit traffic, made mistakes and I have to start from the third row. This is a big problem because I’m not very fast here and we still have some problems with the bike that we have to improve, we have to make a step for tomorrow.
“I think fighting for the podium tomorrow will be hard, because Marc [Marquez, the pole sitter] and Jorge are very strong, but at this track like at Sachsenring also Dani [Pedrosa, who starts second] is very fast, so it will be difficult."