Rossi second, feeling 'strong' after 'strange day'

'In all the practice I was quite strong. So we'll wait and see' - Valentino Rossi.
Rossi second, feeling 'strong' after 'strange day'

A storm-shortened day at COTA ended with Valentino Rossi claiming his best qualifying position in America since Laguna Seca back in 2009.

The Italian, third quickest in Friday practice, outpaced all but Honda's Marc Marquez in the 15-minute Qualifying 2 shootout, his M1 working well despite the loss of FP3 and most of FP4 due to the weather.

"Already in Argentina I was quite good, but today maybe was stronger," said Rossi, who ended his MotoGP podium drought by riding from fourth to second place last time at Termas de Rio Hondo.

"I feel good with the bike, after a strange day. After the hurricane it was difficult to know what to expect for qualifying. But fortunately the track conditions improved a lot and the track dried very quickly.

"But also in my case FP4 was very important, because I am able to make some laps with the slick tyres [at the end] to understand and especially take a good feeling with the bike.

"It's the first front row [of the season], so it's very good. From Argentina we work well on the bike, also with the tyres, and in all the practice I was quite strong. So we'll wait and see."

On a day that saw Marquez suffer several high-speed tankslappers as the COTA bumps and crosswinds destabilised his Honda, Rossi added:

"Usually a strong point of our bike is stability. So maybe we have some other problems but the bike is quite stable and in this track for me in the last years we are strong, also because the bike on the bumps is quite good. I think it's a characteristic of the M1."

But the day wasn't without its scary moments, with the 40-year-old getting out of shape through the fast turn 10.

"I was with the first tyre and in front of Cal I think, but I go over the kerb – a little bit like Maverick made in FP4 – and I lose a little bit the control and I entered the turn 10 but in turn 10 it's like I hit a wet patch. So I lose the control. It’s quite fast, quite scary, but it was okay."

Also okay was Rossi's shoulder, after being seen receiving some physio earlier in the day.

"I have a problem in FP4 because I don’t warm-up the shoulder because we didn't do FP3. Maybe it was for that. But no particular problem."

Marquez will be seeking to extend his unbeaten COTA run to seven in a row on Sunday, while Rossi will be hoping to repeat the famous Laguna Seca 2008 race where he was able to thwart a big practice performance advantage for Casey Stoner.

LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow will complete the front row behind Marquez and Rossi. Team-mate Maverick Vinales, fastest on day one, qualified in sixth place.

Andrea Dovizioso, between Marquez and Rossi in the world championship, could only qualify 13th.