For night-time Qatar showdown
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi will start tomorrow's season-opening MotoGP race from the front of the third row, after qualifying seventh under the Qatar floodlights tonight.
The Italian lacked a little pace with his qualifying
tyres this evening but a strong showing on Bridgestone race tyres in tonight's first practice session left him feeling nonetheless relaxed for tomorrow's race. After struggling slightly for grip yesterday the earlier practice session, run in slightly warmer temperatures, saw Rossi making significant improvements to his setting and finishing third fastest.
Qualifying was something more of a struggle for the multiple world champion however and he was unable to break into the top positions, but he is confident that a good start and a strong first lap will see him in a position to fight with the protagonists in tomorrow's 22-lap race.
Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo took an impressive pole position in his first ever MotoGP qualifying session, leading an all-Yamaha front row from Tech 3 riders James Toseland and Colin Edwards. Tomorrow's race, the first ever MotoGP night-race, will start at 2300 local time.
“After the test we knew that we weren't going to be in perfect shape for the qualifying; we tried a few modifications but we weren't able to completely fix the problem and so I couldn't challenge for the front row. This aside however, I'm pleased with the progress we made today and our race pace is much better than yesterday. We're still missing a couple of tenths from the front but we have a few small modifications planned and I think we're in okay shape for the race. The third row isn't great but we know that the Bridgestone tyres work very well straight away and so if I get a good start then I hope I can challenge at the front.
The bike is feeling good, we've found some more grip compared to yesterday and for sure I can say that we're in better shape than last year. Congratulations to Lorenzo because he was very impressive tonight and this shows that our bike is very good. It's only the first race and I'm quite relaxed; I feel good on the bike, I can ride it exactly how I want to and now we're just waiting for tomorrow.”
“I think that we've done a good job today. Valentino and the whole team had a very good reaction to yesterday's problems and we improved our race pace considerably, so we're very happy about that. We knew that our job with the qualifying tyre would be more difficult tonight and all things considered seventh is not so bad. It's a starting point for us and now we will make progress in the future. Congratulations to Lorenzo for his pole position and to Yamaha for filling the front row; it's going to be a very interesting beginning to the championship!”