Photography by Gold & Goose
Coming into this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix at Assen, Valentino Rossi had to be feeling pretty good about his chances of repeating his victory from a year ago. Tonight, on the eve of the race, he’s not so sure after a miserable qualifying session has left him on the fourth row of the grid for tomorrow’s race at the Circuit van Drenthe.
“It’s a shame because I was competitive today and in all the practices so I thought I could fight for a good position for tomorrow,” Rossi said in a team release. “Unfortunately we had rain at just the wrong moment and I have to start from the fourth row. This changes a lot and everything will be harder. Jorge [Lorenzo] is close to me, but our competitors are on the front row so it will be hard. On the dry I know I can be competitive; I have a good pace so we have to try the maximum. We improved a lot the stability of the bike for today, so I can push. Especially this afternoon I was really good so I am happy with the pace. We have to wait for tomorrow to see what the conditions are, but I hope for a dry race.”
Rossi ended up 12th fastest with his 1:43.625 after not being able to do a quick time for the brief time early in the session when the track was dry.
Both Rossi and his teammate Lorenzo left the pits early, but they were caught up in a pack of riders trying to do a good lap before the rains came harder. The weather only got worse and there was no chance of improvement.
“It was a pity because I think with dry conditions we could stay in first row, but it was dry but spitting in some places like normal Assen circumstances,” Lorenzo said after ending up ninth. “Like this it’s very difficult to go with slicks and understand the limit of the track. You can feel good in two or three corners and suddenly arrive on one corner and it’s wet and you crash. I tried to let some riders run in first position, but they didn’t want to so when we arrived in the last corner I decided to push. Maybe it wasn’t the right strategy. It’s a lesson to learn for the future. The pace is good, but obviously it’s not going to be easy to overtake the in theory slower riders tomorrow. I hope to pass some people on the first corners and little by little move up. The race is long and if we have a good pace we can fight for the podium.”