Rossi on front row for penultimate European round
GP de Portugal
Second qualifying session - Rossi on front row for penultimate European round
Valentino Rossi will start from second position on the grid for tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix, after being edged off pole position in the last minute of final qualifying in Estoril. His Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team-mate Carlos Checa improved his grid position slightly and will start from 10th position tomorrow, at the head of the fourth row. Checa was one of the first riders to better yesterday’s time, moving from 11th to ninth position with nine minutes left on the clock. As the session drew to a close Rossi still held onto pole position, but then Honda rider Makota Tamada stormed into the top slot with a lap of 1’37.933. Rossi made a small mistake on his flying lap shortly after and could not beat the Japanese rider’s time, leaving him in second place with yesterday’s lap of 1’38.036 still his fastest. Sete Gibernau (Honda) makes up the front row in third position after also failing to improve on yesterday’s time of 1’38.067. Meanwhile Checa was pushed back down one place to 10th, with a final fastest time of 1’38.862.
Valentino Rossi (2nd, 1’38.036)
“The track is a little bit worse than yesterday because last night and this morning it was raining. The surface was dry this afternoon but it wasn’t the same as yesterday. I made a mistake with my qualifying tyre and I couldn’t improve the time from yesterday. However I’m in second position for the start and I’m fairly happy. We had a few problems with the tyres; the rear moves too much after a few laps, so I hope we can improve this for the race.”
Davide Brivio, Team Director
“A strange day; one session wet, one dry. For sure on positive thing is that we improved our rain settings a lot and had a good session this morning. Yamaha and the team worked very well on this. In the afternoon, despite Valentino not being able to use qualifying tyres in the best way, he stayed on the front row and this is very important for tomorrow. Carlos unfortunately couldn’t move up much from yesterday so will have a difficult race, but I’m sure he’ll try his best to be on top.”
Norick Abe 14th (at 1.702)
‘Towards of the session, while on our race tyre, I was able to follow Rossi for a couple of laps with no problem, which is encouraging for tomorrow’s race. Unfortunately things didn’t go so well with the qualifying tyre and I was only able to improve my lap time very slightly. It means my grid position isn’t great – I’ll need to make a good start tomorrow.’
Gilles Bigot (Norick Abe’s Race Engineer)
‘We worked hard on the front and rear suspension, making a lot of little changes that seem to have paid off. We still however have a problem over the last part of the track and that is what we will be concentrating on tomorrow morning during the warm up.’
Herve Poncharal (Team Manager)
Although Marco isn’t too happy with how his bike was handling he was nevertheless the fastest Yamaha this afternoon and would have been able to hold on to his 2nd row grid position if he hadn’t been pipped by Hopkins. We need to work hard now on giving him better feel for race day. Norick on the other hand seems quite happy with his set up and providing he doesn’t get to held up in traffic early on should be able to go well tomorrow.