Valentino Rossi was 'quite surprised' to take the final MotoGP pole position at Donington Park, before the British round switches to Silverstone in 2010, and the world championship leader remains concerned about his pace with the harder race tyre.
A fourth victory of the season in Sunday's tenth round would put Rossi in with a strong chance of pushing his 14 point lead over Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo to around the one-race-win mark (25 points), just as the summer break begins.
However, if the weather remains dry for the race - and it is a big if
- then Rossi feels he will need a better set-up for his factory M1.
“I am quite surprised to be on pole today because we had a couple of problems this afternoon,” confessed the Italian, who took his fourth pole of the season by 0.095sec over Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, with Lorenzo in third.
“This morning unfortunately we didn't try the hard Bridgestone tyre but we weren't worried because everyone else had good grip with it. But this afternoon when we finally tried it we found the grip to be not as we expected and our pace with it wasn't so good.
“We made some modifications and improved it a bit, then we made a few more and used the soft tyre again and then we were very quick. Like that I could ride the bike how I wanted and it felt great, fast and flowing so this was a good job from the team.
“We need to do some work to improve our pace with the hard tyre, and then we just have to wait and see what the weather does tomorrow. Whatever happens, we're starting from the front and this is the most important thing,” he concluded.
“We still have some work to do to improve the race setting to finalise the package in case we have dry conditions tomorrow, but we have the warm-up in to try to fine-tune everything,” said team manager Davide Brivio. “It looks like it's more likely that it's going to rain however, in which case we will use what we learned yesterday.”
In contrast to Rossi, Lorenzo was 'very fast and consistent' on the harder rear race tyre and led most of the one-hour qualifying session before softer rubber was fitted.