Valentino Rossi must beat team-mate Jorge Lorenzo if he is to retain his MotoGP title lead next time out at Assen.

29 points ahead of Lorenzo after winning two of the opening three rounds, Rossi's advantage now stands at just a single point following four successive wins for the Spaniard.

The latest came at Catalunya on Sunday, when Rossi again paid the price for qualifying on the third row.

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Rossi crossed the finish line just 0.8s from Lorenzo, having lost one-second to his team-mate on the opening lap alone. Lorenzo built a lead of 1.6s after five laps, 2.0s after ten laps, with his advantage peaking at 2.3s on lap 12 of 25.

Momentum then swung towards The Doctor, with Lorenzo's lead slowly eroded before Rossi sliced half-a-second in one go on lap 19. That left Lorenzo only 1s clear and set the scene for a repeat of their thrilling 2009 showdown.

But it wasn't to be. Lorenzo responded with three laps remaining and while Rossi pulled back 0.3s on the final lap he couldn't quite get within striking distance.

"There were one or two moments where I thought I could catch Jorge," Rossi said. "I tried to make a calculation and I think I can arrive maybe on the last lap. But it was not enough. For him it was better like this. For me it was a shame because I think a battle could have been very hard and funny to watch."

Rossi, who took four laps to advance from seventh to second, admitted: "Unfortunately when you have Jorge in this type of shape it is very difficult to win from the third row. When I arrive into second place I already had 1.5s [to Lorenzo] and it is very difficult to recover this disadvantage.

"So we have to concentrate on qualifying, try to start in the top five. Unfortunately it is not easy. This time I had the potential for a top five qualifying but I didn't ride well enough. The other problem is that in qualifying you have a lot of bikes that are fast for one lap [on the soft Open class tyre] and slower in the race. But Jorge has my bike and tyres and he is able to put some riders between me and him on the grid. So we have to work."

Finishing behind Lorenzo is something Rossi can no longer afford in terms of the title lead.

"I have been in first position from the first race and it is important to resist," said Rossi, seeking a tenth title in his 20th season of grand prix racing. "But now the difference is just one point, so to keep the lead it means I will have to arrive in front of Jorge and that is difficult.

"From the other side, I'm happy because this was an important race after three quite difficult races. Here was better because from Saturday morning I was really quite strong. This gives us good confidence.

"Now we will take a rest and go to Assen, a great track everybody loves, but different conditions. A lot of grip but especially the weather. You never know at Assen."


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The QP format is lame, those soft tyre options are giving a confusing look during the race. There's more overtaking but when did any rider use the soft tyre to race and made it to the end? Answer not. They wanted to get rid of the qualifying tyre but that format gave anybody a chance. Those soft tyres should be banned or being available for everybody. It gives the Ducati for example a lot of advantage but to be honest in race trim they are way off. Plus 15 minutes for qualifying, come on on short tracks it would work on longer tracks too many victims of the times.