Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi upped his pace to another level today at the Sepang International Circuit and took third on the grid for tomorrow‘s race.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi left it to the final session to secure a front row start for tomorrow‘s race at the Sepang International Circuit. Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo had a challenging outing and will start the race from second row.
Rossi was a man on a mission this afternoon at the Malaysian circuit and didn‘t waste a second of the tense 15-minute qualifying two session. His first flying lap of 2‘00.310 put him in fourth position before being pushed back to fifth. He quickly returned to the pits with nine minutes to go for a quick stop and came back to the track a minute later, fully focused on the task ahead.
The Doctor was putting in the maximum effort to secure a good place on the grid and he dropped a 1‘59.810 for fourth place, before coming in for another quick stop.
In every braking section I‘m losing too much and I was unable to recover in acceleration what I lost on braking.
After his second visit to the box, Rossi was back on his way with more than two minutes remaining and timed his final stint to perfection. The Italian crossed the finish line in the final second before the flag came out to commence his final hot lap. Still holding fourth for a second row start, he put his head down once more to ride a superb third and fourth sector and clock a 1‘59.726s which earned him third place.
It was a day with highs and lows for team-mate Lorenzo. The championship title chaser started the day by dipping under the 2‘00 mark in the morning‘s free practice with a time of 1'59.544s, but he had a minor slide down the track in the afternoon practice session.
Thankfully unhurt Lorenzo arrived at the Sepang qualifying session, opting for his usual three-stint qualifying strategy. He made sure he was one of the first riders for the 15-minute qualifying heat to be ensured of some clear space. He posted a 1‘59.737s lap to take provisional second place and immediately returned to the pits with more than nine and a half minutes to go.
He returned to the track less than a minute later and, having been pushed back to third, felt fired up to set another hot lap. However, he was unable to improve on his time and came back into the box to switch bike.
With two minutes of the session remaining he put the hammer down for a final time, but again came just a bit short to further improve on his time and finished the day in fourth place.
Valentino Rossi: "It‘s just the practice, so nothing is done, but it‘s a very important first row. On the last lap I was able to improve my lap time a little bit and overtake Jorge. Starting from the first row will be very important, but winning the race is always difficult. Here with the heat and the tyres the race is even tougher. Anything can happen, but we are on the front row and this is important. Sepang is one of the toughest Grand Prix because it‘s very hot, but a lot of qualifying sessions have been more difficult than today‘s has been for me, because today I was competitive and I enjoyed it.
I arrived at the qualifying ready with a good setting and pace, so I was able to push and already on the second tyre I was able to put in a 1‘59s. I knew that I was able to do this, it was the target, but I was hoping for something a little bit more and on the last lap I was able to deliver thanks to good concentration and good grip from the bike, so I‘m happy. Starting from the front row is always important, but here it‘s a bit more important because I beat Jorge, but the race happens tomorrow and it will be difficult for everybody. We will try to be ready."
Jorge Lorenzo: "In free practice four and qualifying we had big problems with the brakes, when I arrived at turn four I couldn‘t brake, the power of the brake arrived suddenly in the middle, but I wasn‘t able to brake on the first part and couldn‘t stop unless it was a very aggressive stop, that was the main problem this afternoon. In every braking section I‘m losing too much and I was unable to recover in acceleration what I lost on braking. It was a pity to lose the front row, but I think that if we solve this problem, we can be competitive for the race."
Massimo Meregalli - Team Director: "It was an exciting qualifying session today. Valentino did a great job to secure a front row for tomorrow. He has been working hard today to find the right setting and he dug deep in the final stages of the session. We are satisfied with his third position, which is a good place to start the race from. Jorge showed a strong pace throughout all the sessions. It‘s a shame that he struggled with the braking and missed out on the front row, but we‘ll continue to work tonight to sort out the final issues for the warm up and then we will be ready for the race tomorrow morning."