Valentino Rossi declared himself to be “not happy for the result” after his qualifying attempts were frustrated by traffic at Brno, leaving him sixth fastest and off the front row of the MotoGP grid.
Desperate to make up as much ground as possible on title leader Marc Marquez, Rossi described the on-track congestion like “the centre of Rome” as he failed to better his fastest time of 1m 55.509s from his first run the second time around.
“I'm not happy for the result, because I have to start from the second row,” said the Italian, who trails Marquez by 57 points in the world championship standings.
“It's a shame, because I wasn't able to make one clear lap. We have a better potential, we are able to start from the front row, on the ideal time I am in third position. Because I start with the hard, and I did already a 55.5, but I know that I have half a second of margin, because I can use the soft in the second exit.
“But unfortunately on the second exit, everybody waiting, I stuck in traffic, it was like I was staying in the centre of Rome. Everybody open the throttle, and wait, and brake, it was a big disaster. I tried to make a lap, but I was caught in the confusion, and unfortunately, I have to fight with [Pol] Espargaro, with Marquez, and I wasn't able to improve.
“But anyway, second row is more difficult, but anyway, second row is still possible to make a good race and fight for the podium if you have a good pace. And in the afternoon I was not so bad. My pace is quite good.
“Now, the bigger question mark is the weather conditions, because first of all, we have to understand if it will be dry or wet, but will be very important also the temperature.
“If it will be more cold than today, like everybody say, it will be more difficult with the front tyre, because it's more tricky for everybody. We have to improve some places, we have to wait for tomorrow and see the condition, and see what will happen.”
Preparing to begin his final qualifying lap, the Italian found himself behind the younger Espargaro entering the final left-right. Unknown to him, Marquez was close behind on his own fastest lap. The Repsol Honda rider ruthlessly plunged under Rossi, hampering his drive out of the final corner.
Rossi was quick to shrug the move off: “I arrive too quick to Espargaro, and I want to wait for overtake Espargaro on the straight, but when I slow down to exit faster, I don't know that Marc is behind, and arrive also Márquez, for my last lap. But these things happen.”
The 37-year old set an enviable pace in FP3 on Saturday morning but was unable to replicate that as we moved into afternoon. Rossi explained how, like 2015, track conditions changed considerably from day one to two of free practice, leaving a question mark hanging over the front tyre choice.
“The problem is that the track, like always in Brno, also last year, it change a lot between Friday to Saturday. That tyre is the good one, but unfortunately yesterday, it looked good also after a lot of laps.
“This morning I tried to push, but after seven laps on the right, it was already destroyed. It means that we cannot race with that tire. If you don't have 20 degrees less or rain tonight and tomorrow coming dry. But is a risk, that tire, is a risk the harder. For sure if we have bad conditions, it will be very very tricky with the front.
“For me, I think that the softer is the better option for everybody, so we try to concentrate on that. In the afternoon, I did a lot of laps on a used tyre and my pace was not so bad, so I think that the majority of the riders will use the soft, especially if we have less temperature.”