Photography by Gold & Goose
Valentino Rossi knows that in order to give Marc Marquez a battle, he has to qualify better. At Mugello, he butchered his qualifying session and ended up starting the race on the fourth row of the grid. Still, he ended up a close third to the battle between race-winner Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, but how close would he have been with a better qualifying session…
“Qualifying is now the key in MotoGP and I am not very good,” Rossi confessed today in the pre-race press conference for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Catalunya. “I am never on the first row this year so I have to do better. At Mugello I was 0.5 seconds behind pole but had to start on the fourth row. But I was strong in the first laps and was lucky to recover, but I lost the chance to fight with Marc and Jorge in the race on Saturday [during qualifying]. I need to start at the front to have a chance against them. The 15 minutes of qualifying is now the wildest part of the weekend and everybody goes very, very fast and compared to the race the lap time goes shown more than one second. Especially Marc this year, who is always in pole position, and also Jorge are able to use the extra grip of the tire at 100 percent. [Andrea] Dovi is also very fast in this way.
“If you are 0.5 seconds from pole position then it is very difficult. This year the M1 is better with the new tire on braking so now it is just me. I need to do a good strategy to start in the top five and try for the front row.”