Valentino Rossi is determined to challenge for the podium at his home race at the San Marino MotoGP tomorrow after the nine-time world champion put his Factory Yamaha on the front row.
Rossi, who last sealed a rostrum result at Laguna Seca prior to the summer break, held second place after a lap in 1m 33.659s with two minutes remaining before he was displaced by team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
The Italian superstar set his fastest lap on his final circuit in 1m 33.573s to finish 0.658s behind pole man Marc Marquez, but only 0.145s behind reigning world champion Lorenzo.
A buoyant Rossi praised the set-up of his M1 and reaffirmed his desire to climb onto the rostrum tomorrow in front of his passionate home supporters.
“I am very happy, very satisfied with yesterday and today because we worked very well during the practice, I was always strong and we improved the setting step by step,” said Rossi, whose home town of Tavullia is just a few kilometers from Misano.
“This afternoon my bike was fantastic; it had a great setting with a lot of grip. With the second tyre I was alone with no traffic and I pushed very much from the first corner with a great feeling with the bike and I improved my lap time a lot.
“I'm so happy because it's very important to start on the front row tomorrow, because Marc and Dani [Pedrosa] are very fast and also Lorenzo is very strong and very fast,” he added.
“Tomorrow I want to arrive on the podium so starting with them from the beginning is very important, to go with them in the first laps, and fight for it. I want a great race and I want to be on the podium.”
Both Rossi and Lorenzo are using Yamaha's new seamless shift gearbox for the first time at a grand prix.
“It's great to ride with the seamless, it is a lot more easy and a lot more precise. It will help especially for the race, 28 laps, because it is less demanding to ride. But it is not just the gearbox, it is also the track - for me it is important to make a good result and I'm always strong here at Misano.
Asked about the race day weather, Rossi added: “Somebody said to me it may be a bit more fresh and cold, but I hope its stays dry and sunny, especially for all the people who are coming here.”
Rossi unveiled a special helmet on Saturday morning, dedicated to the late Marco Simoncelli, featuring the Pink Floyd-lyrics “Wish you were here”.