Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi snatched his 52nd ever pole position ahead of the fourth round of the 2016 MotoGP season in a last minute bid at the end of qualifying. Rossi celebrated this as if he won what will be his first pole position so far this season.
What Rossi had to say...
Rossi’s chances of winning last year were prohibited by not qualifying as well as he could have done with throughout the season. A better starting position could have meant more wins and the championship could have been guaranteed sooner. Rossi puts his success down to the fact his team “worked a lot” and because of the Michelin tyres.
The Italian “feels better already” when discussing the season so far as he has already started from the front row twice but said, “pole position is something different, especially in Jerez”. Rossi, an Italian, leads the grid ahead of three rows almost filled (bar Ducati rider Andre Dovizioso) of Spaniards.
Rossi did not finish at the Circuit of the Americas after he claimed he wrecked his clutch, and the Yamaha rider, who recently extended his contract by two years, crashed out early on in the race much to his own bemusement.
Because he did not finish in Austin missing out on any vital championship points, Rossi said, “We have to start doing so now”. He described the race as being “very hard with Lorenzo and Marquez”, but remained positive saying, “We are there and we can fight”. The Italian last won here in 2009 and so is hoping to claim the title again.
Lorenzo qualified in second
Just behind Rossi on the grid is his teammate Jorge Lorenzo who won here last year and before that in 2011; who will not be his teammate for long as he has just announced that he has signed a two year contract with the factory Ducati team for 2017-2019 seasons. Lorenzo did not appear happy with his position claiming, “Second place is not bad, obviously I wanted the pole position”.
The ever competitive 2015 champion blamed “Problems with the second tyre” for his result saying, “It was chattering on the straight and in the corners it had no grip”, because of this Lorenzo decided to cancel the fast lap as he felt he was going to crash but was not too upset as it was “slow anyway”.
He re-entered the pits to change tyres again and said, “With the third tyre it was OK and I made a good lap time”, he knew that his time of 1:38.858 was “not good enough for pole position” but that it was “enough to be on the first row” which he felt was “important”.
Lorenzo remains focused on his Yamaha duties rather than his future Ducati challenge, and confident ahead of the race saying, “After Free Practice 4 we’ve got a great pace; a fast pace in the beginning and later a constant pace” and finished by saying, “Let’s hope to repeat this tomorrow in the race.”
Marquez completes the front row
Completing the front row is Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez who last won here two years ago in 2014; he qualified third with a time of 1:38.891. The Spaniard is “satisfied” because he felt that before the qualifying session that it would be “difficult to get pole position”. The class is made up of nine Spaniards; seven of them are within the top ten.
Marquez said, “The goal was to achieve a place on the front row”. Marquez is happy with achieving third place saying, “I think we did a great job; I rode well and I felt comfortable on the bike”. Over the Free Practice sessions Marquez said the Repsol Honda team, “tested three different setups that ultimately allowed me to be consistent in qualifying”, something the Spaniard does not feel he is able to do usually.
Knowing that the two Movistar Yamaha riders had a faster pace than him he tried to remain positive ahead of the race saying, “”We’ll see if we can stay with them during the race tomorrow because it seems that they have a very good pace”.
The top independent rider was Pol Espargaro in eighth
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Pol Espargaro finished as the top independent rider today and qualified in eighth on the grid with a time of 1:39.720; his time was just under second slower than Rossi’s pole position time. The Spaniard said today meant “mission accomplished” as the team were looking to finish as the fastest out of the independent riders. Admitting the factory riders are quicker he said, “Our goal has to be the leading satellite bike placement again”.
Pol admitted that his part of his success was due to following Marquez which allowed him to “discover some racing lines” which he felt allowed him to “increase corner speed in several turns”. He feels that he could have been quicker in qualifying and that a mistake on his last lap made him lose some time.
The Yamaha rider said, “I am satisfied with what we achieved and my overall feeling with the Michelin tyres is improving at every event and I am becoming more confident”. During the race he is hoping to be able to contend with the pace of the factory Ducatis and the Suzukis in the field saying if he is able to change this "Even if the setup itself is quite different from the other Yamaha’s” that the Spaniard “will be very pleased”.