Valentino Rossi will start his home Italian Grand Prix from outside of the front row for the first time since the 1999 250cc event, after being bumped back to fourth in the closing stages of Saturday's qualifying session.
The Fiat Yamaha star, chasing his eighth consecutive Mugello victory, had been on pole with less than two minutes to go, but narrowly lost out to Suzuki's Loris Capirossi, Ducati's Casey Stoner and his own team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
“Sincerely I am quite disappointed to miss out on the first row!” said Valentino. “Usually I don't mind so much but here, in Mugello, it's special so I am sorry for this. It was a great fight today and we had good potential for the pole position but in the end we lost the front row to Loris, who did a great lap.”
Rossi will start round five level with Stoner in the world championship and just one point behind pole sitter Lorenzo, who appears to be the only rider with a race pace better than Rossi.
“Our setting is good, we have some small details to check but our race pace with the harder tyre is very good so I am not too worried,” confirmed The Doctor. “Of course starting from the second row makes life a little more difficult but we don't think about this. The weather situation is very important because if it's like this then we know we are fast but if it changes, which seems possible from the forecast, then it will be a bit more difficult.”
“As far as race preparation goes that was a good session, because we were always fast,” stated team manager Davide Brivio. “In the hot laps with the soft tyres at the end we just missed out on the front row but this is not the end of the world. Our race set-up is very good and, although starting from fourth makes our job a little harder, we know that Valentino will be in the fight tomorrow. We're looking forward to a great race.”