Rossi takes pole for Ja­panese Mo­toGP

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Valentino Rossi feels fierce ri­vals Marc Mar­quez and Jorge Lorenzo cur­rently have an edge on race pace as the Mo­vis­tar Yamaha rider pre­pares for his 64th Grand Prix pole start in the Ja­panese Mo­toGP.

Rossi set the fastest time in Q2 on his fi­nal lap to head up the front row from Rep­sol Honda rider Mar­quez by 0.180 sec­onds, with Lorenzo com­plet­ing the front row.

How­ever, the nine-time world cham­pion says he needs to im­prove his over­all pace slightly to be in with a chance of tak­ing victory at Motegi.

“To make the pole po­si­tion is al­ways a spe­cial feel­ing. This time also more be­cause we strug­gle all the time dur­ing the prac­tice. Yes­ter­day we were a bit in trou­ble but es­pe­cially this morn­ing we ex­pected to im­prove, but it was not enough and I was quite far,” Rossi said.

“But we worked well with the team and we im­proved a lot the bal­ance of the bike for FP4. In fact in the last prac­tice I was al­ready faster and competitive, so I was more pos­i­tive for the qual­i­fy­ing and I think that I can fight for the front row – also be­cause in the last year al­ways in Motegi I have a good qual­i­fy­ing.

“In FP4 I im­proved the pace a lot and this is im­por­tant for to­mor­row. Look­ing at it on pa­per, also Dovizioso and Crutchlow are very strong but I think that me, Mar­quez and Lorenzo are the strong­est,” added the Ital­ian.

“We are quite close but it looks like Jorge and Marc are a lit­tle bit faster than me, but I am close. We need to work tonight and try to fix the de­tails and hope for good weather to­mor­row with more tem­per­a­ture.”

Rossi, mean­while, is con­cerned over his fit­ness. The 37-year-old is feel­ing un­der the weather with a cold in Ja­pan, which he feels could prove prob­lem­atic in the clos­ing stages of the race.

“I'm not at 100 per-cent be­cause when I push a lot of laps I don't feel at the max­i­mum – I'm quite sick and it's dif­fi­cult to breathe, so this is a worry for the race be­cause the race here is very long and very de­mand­ing,” he said. “You have to brake hard but I hope that to­mor­row I can make an­other step and try to fight for the victory.”

Rossi, who is 52 points be­hind Mar­quez with four races in­clud­ing the Ja­panese round re­main­ing, ex­pects a close bat­tle on the open­ing laps in­volv­ing a num­ber of riders, with Du­cati's An­drea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Suzuki duo Aleix Es­par­garo and Mav­er­ick Vi­nales also dis­play­ing strong pace at the Twin Ring cir­cuit.

“As al­ways the first three or four laps of the Mo­toGP race are al­ways cru­cial so you have to try and stay in front from the be­gin­ning and try and push at the max­i­mum from the first cor­ner,” Rossi said.

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