MOTEGI, JAPAN, OCT 12 – Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi doesn’t see a podium finish on the cards in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, but he’s in the thick of what could be a very entertaining fight for fourth.
Rossi made progress in setting up his Desmosedici for Sunday’s 15th round of the MotoGP World Championship. The team improved rear traction “and from that moment I start to go faster,"he said. "And I’m happy for the fifth position, but especially I am happy because I am half a second, just more than half a second from the pole position that is a good gap.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa set Friday’s fastest time ahead of title rival Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha, with Andrea Dovizioso third fastest on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine. Fourth through ninth was covered by little more than half a second. Rossi’s best lap in the warm afternoon session was 1:46.687, about seven-tenths from Pedrosa’s pace.
“But anyway, we have to work, because, unfortunately I’m good with the new tire, soft new tire. And I did a good lap, but after I’m not so strong on the pace, after three, four laps I start to slide too much and I lose too much time and I’m able to go in 47.3, 47.4, but to try to do a good race we need to improve .3, .4 in the rhythm.
“Also because I think the first three are faster, Pedrosa, Lorenzo, and also Dovizioso, but from the fourth we are all very close. But the guys, the faster guys on the four positions they are able to go in 47.0 about rhythm, and if you want to try to fight for a good race, we need to improve something in the pace, so tomorrow we will try some modify. And yeah, is a problem, because have four or five riders that are everybody on the same pace, so if we want to try to do a good race, to fight for the first position, we need to improve a bit, if not, we lose a lot of position.
“But, yeah, for the first day is good and we have to try something for tomorrow. Will be very important the rear tire choice, because here the soft and the hard are very similar and I need to wait to Sunday about the condition of the track and the temperature, because it’s possible to make the race with the soft or the hard, it depends. And it will be very important the decision for the race.”
Teammate Nicky Hayden complained of brake fade on the Motegi track that he said has the most severe braking of any circuit on the MotoGP calendar. Rossi was of the same mind.
“Yeah, I have problem with the brakes, especially in the second part of the track, because we overheat the front brake,” Rossi said of his issues at Motegi. “And when the brake come over the limit in the temperature, I lose brake power. And this is a problem. But I think that is difficult to fix for Sunday or for tomorrow, because we have already the big disk. The 1000 is very fast and here is a lot of demanding for the brakes, so we have to hope that the situation maybe improve with more grip, but yeah, is a problem, is a problem. Now Brembo will check all the things and the temperature of the disk and we will see tomorrow.”
Having finished on the podium in Misano, Rossi was asked if he saw himself back up there this weekend. He admitted that Pedrosa and Lorenzo were faster, but added that the gap wasn’t as big as it had been at the previous race. “Especially Dovizioso is close, have a good pace. So the podium is already finished.
“But you know, in the race you never know, you never know what happens. But for the situation of today, for fight for the fourth place, I need to improve my pace. Like this, is difficult. But we have another two days and I think the grip will be improved in the track, because the new asphalt have a very good grip, but now is quite dirty because this night rain. So we have to wait. Maybe tomorrow we have a more clear situation. Our target for tomorrow is try to improve the pace and try to start from the second row and after we will see for the race.”