Monster Energy factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi said that his qualifying lap was a great one, enjoying it, as the Italian put his M1 on the middle of the front row at Silverstone.
The Italian was strong through free practice but wasn’t considered to have the pace of Marc Marquez or Fabio Quartararo. Sat down in eleventh place after his first run, Rossi had to find something special.
Rossi came out of the pits at the same time as Marquez and Jack Miller. The trio coasted around, not wanting to help each other, however, Rossi was the most desperate down in eleventh place, so led the way.
With Marquez and Miller in his tow, Rossi produced a stunning 1:58.596, which was good enough for pole position for a matter of seconds, before Marquez, who had been sat directly behind him, blitzed his time. Despite this, Rossi was delighted with his qualifying performance.
“Already from Friday I feel good with the bike and I have quite a good pace,” said the Yamaha man.
“We work during the practice in a good way and we try to improve and also in FP4 I was strong, so I know that the qualifying is very important, as now if you want to fight for the podium, you have to start in the first five, six places maximum.
“After the qualifying was a bit tricky, as I start last with the first tyre, but in the back straight everybody waiting, so in the end I arrive on the grid first, but I don’t want to pull everybody. So, I slow down, but I know I just have one card to play.
“At the end I was there with Marc and Jack, but I tried on the last lap and it was a great lap and I enjoy, I enjoy very much.”
The four Yamaha riders have been strong all weekend and all four qualified inside the top eight for Sunday’s race. When asked about what he can do in the race, Rossi said: “Looks like I am quite competitive, and this is so important as in the mid part of the season we suffer very much, I was very slow, and I wasn’t able to ride the bike at the limit.
“But after the stop from Brno we change quite a lot on the bike, step-by-step I was able to recover the feeling. So, it’s good to be strong here, as Austria was better than Brno and here is a little bit better than Austria.
“But you know the list is very long, I want to try to fight for the podium, but we have five, six riders with very good pace, so will be important to make everything from the maximum at the start.”
Rossi was also asked what about Silverstone makes it work well with the Yamaha. He mentioned the long, fast corners as a possible reason as to why the Yamaha is strong, but also the work done.
“The layout of the track, the type of corners are good for our bike, medium fast,” he said.
“The new asphalt with the good grip helps. I think the bumps don’t help us, our bike is very good on the bumps, it’s stable so also on the bumps we can be strong. It looks like on the last period that Yamaha start to work in the right direction and it’s not easy for sure.
“They start to do clever things, change very much the situation compared to the last two years. Looks like with some small adjustments, the bike is better, we accelerate better, especially its more easy to ride in all parts of the corner. We are not, fast enough on the straight for the rest I think we improve in general, but also this track helps.”
He continued, “we work well in acceleration, and especially we try to be quite fast, but to save the tyres, in the last year we always suffer. Maybe you can do five laps, but after we suffer in tyre degradation, especially compared to the Honda and the Ducati.
“So, we start to work in a more clever way. Here at Silverstone is good for Yamaha, but also in Austria we were not so bad, Quartararo was on the podium. But we were a bit too far from Dovi and Marquez, but anyways a lot better than in the last years.”
There has also been talk in recent weeks about his ability to continue at the front of the field, with some questioning if 2019 would be Rossi’s final season in MotoGP. Rossi said that performances like this help remind everyone what he can do.
“Twenty laps is very long in Silverstone, that’s true and it will be hot. But we cannot complain, because usually here it’s five degrees and rain for three days, so we cannot complain about the sun,” said Rossi.
“I feel very well when it’s hot more than the cold. I know that I have the motivation and I can be strong. I feel good physically, but depends on the feeling of the bike, because in the mid part of the season, seriously I was optimistic as its track I like from Mugello, to Sachsenring or Assen or Barcelona.
“But we were in a very bad situation, we get lost a little bit, as I am not able to ride the bike. Here, you see with Lorenzo, if you’re not at one hundred percent and don’t ride your bike at one hundred percent, you’re not P7, you are P18 because everybody is strong. So, it’s normal at my age and the point in my career if I make three races very bad, people start to say he’s old and it’s time to stay at home.
“But for this reason, I am more happy, because I know if I ride well I can be competitive, so it’s already a good result but we try tomorrow because tomorrow is the most important.”