With front row start
Valentino Rossi sealed a second consecutive front-row start in Estoril today, finishing this afternoon's sunny qualifying session in third ahead of tomorrow's Portuguese Grand Prix.
His team-mate Colin Edwards also put himself into a promising
position for the 28-lap race with a competitive lap that saw him take sixth on the grid.
After a good first day's work yesterday, Rossi was fast again in this morning's final free practice session and finished second behind Casey Stoner, but Edwards continued to struggle and was down in 13th. Rossi put in more good work throughout the first half hour of this afternoon's session and was never out of the top three, showing a good race pace which was well in touch with his rivals.
Edwards meanwhile was making little progress before a small change to his set-up in the second half gave him the tools he needed to improve his pace. As the session moved into its crunch period, both riders tried a new qualifying tyre from Michelin but it did not work as planned and they were left with a sole soft tyre each with which to make their qualifying bids. Rossi's lap put him on pole briefly but both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden then went faster than him, with Hayden's eventual pole lap a tenth of a second off Rossi's 2006 time. Edwards also put in a strong flying lap which was good enough for fifth, before a last ditch effort from Yamaha Tech 3 rider Makoto Tamada pushed the American one place down the order.
"We've been fast for all the practice sessions so far here and we have found a good rhythm so things are looking quite positive. It's good to be on the front row, of course pole is always the target but the most important thing is to be on the front row in order to give ourselves the best chance. I tried a new kind of qualifying tyre today but it didn't work so I only had one lap, but luckily I was able to do a good time, even if I might have improved with one more tyre. The new Michelin race tyres are working well here and the other Michelin riders are fast too so we can hopefully all be close to Stoner tomorrow. I hope that we can fight with him, make some good passes and have some fun, especially in the first part of the race. I'm happy with the work we've done and with the setting we've found; our Yamaha is working well in the tight corners on this track and we're excited about a good race tomorrow."
"We made some changes to the swing arm, back to what we know works and that helped me a lot in the later stages of this afternoon. It's only a millimetre or so different to Valentino but to me it makes all the difference.
The session went okay and I was feeling quite positive about the qualifying laps but then we tried a new tyre for the first one and it didn't work at all, so I was way down the order! After that it was now or never with the second one, which is not ideal because usually you like to have one flying lap to get your confidence and then one to really nail it! Anyway I made one mistake in the small chicane but it didn't hurt me too much and I can't be too upset with the second row after the way we've been going for most of the weekend. It's going to be a tough race and I'm just going to have to get my head down tomorrow and take no prisoners."
"So far so good this weekend and with Valentino we have a good pace and we're close to our rivals. The first row was our target today and now we just hope to be in the fight until the end tomorrow and to enjoy the race. Colin did a very good qualifying lap and he has a good starting position also tomorrow. Last year he did a great race in the top group and now we just have to finalise a few things overnight to make sure we can give him the package to enable him to do the same again tomorrow. "