MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi believes he has little chance of qualifying on the front row for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, and even has a fight on his hands to start from row two.
Rossi, who was seventh-fastest in Friday night’s FP3, believes the front row will be fought out between three riders.
“Looks like [Andrea] Iannone, [Jorge] Lorenzo and [Marc] Marquez are a bit faster,” said Rossi, “but from fourth – [Andrea] Dovi[zioso], Maverick [Vinales], [Dani] Pedrosa, me, [Scott] Redding… there are five or six riders we can fight for the second row with.
“It will be very important to do a good lap, because one tenth [lost] can cost you three or four positions, which makes it very different for the first lap.”
Tyre issues hamper practice runs
Rossi failed to shine in practice today, and admitted it hadn’t gone to plan.
He said: “Today was a bit more difficult, especially because we hoped the third front tyre, the third choice, would work better than yesterday, but unfortunately not, it was worse.
“We have to work with yesterday’s tyre. This made us lose some of FP2, but then in FP3 I was stronger and faster, because I had a problem with the first bike, I had to stop and change, but then with the second bike I had a good pace, so this good for the race.
“For time attack, I am in P7, which is not enough, so tomorrow it will be important to improve two or three points with the setting and especially make a very good lap – because from fourth to seventh, we are [split by] one tenth. It will be very different if you are able to start fourth compared to seventh.”
Rossi says the warm-up process of the new Michelin control tyres will make qualifying a different proposition to 2015.
“They will change qualifying, and the race also, because you need one lap more or half a lap more, you need to start a bit more quietly,” he said.
“We will see tomorrow.”