Valentino Rossi was lucky to escape injury when he was pitched from his Movistar Yamaha shortly after leaving the pits on Saturday morning at the Aragon MotoGP.

The Italian was able to walk away and returned to action later in the session, but the time lost hampered his efforts to improve the set-up of his M1. Rossi went on to qualify in sixth, having been second quickest behind the dominant Marc Marquez in final practice.

"We had a quite difficult day, especially from the start because we had a lot of work to do but unfortunately I start with the new rear tyre and I did a mistake because I entered too fast on the left [corner] and I crashed," Rossi explained.

"After half-a-lap it was not a fantastic start. At the same time I'm very lucky and I have to say thank you to Dainese for the airbag, which saved my shoulder. That type of crash is quite dangerous because first of all you don't expect it and also you go quite slow, so I landed quite heavy on the shoulder.

"When you don't have a physical problem after a crash like that it is already ok, but on the other side we lost a lot of time and our work to try to improve our pace was delayed. Also I'm not happy to start from the sixth place because - yes, it is on the second row - but I didn't make a good lap. I think I can do better.

"Now we have to wait and see the conditions tomorrow, decide the right tyres and try to make a good race.

"In the free practice I was not so bad with the hard tyres, I was in second place. So this is quite good, but we need to work a lot to try to improve the pace and especially try to be fast from the beginning and also keep a good rhythm throughout the race.

"Marquez is very strong, he is the guy that clearly has the best pace and he is starting from pole position. Tomorrow we need to concentrate and fight all race to arrive on the podium. I think to beat Marquez will be very, very difficult."

Rossi also described Dani Pedrosa, starting seventh after a fall, as 'very strong', while Cal Crutchlow has also featured in the top three this weekend.

Is Rossi surprised by the performance of the Hondas?

"I expect the Hondas to be strong because historically it is a good track for them. And also the Honda improved a lot in the last two or three races; because they won with Crutchlow but also with Pedrosa. It looks like they improved a lot the acceleration from the corner."

In terms of tyres for the race, Rossi expects to see a range of different front rubber used, but that most will choose the hard rear.

However, it "depends very much on the conditions, because the forecast says tomorrow can be more cold and fresh. We saw this morning a lot of mistakes, a lot of crashes, so it means you have to keep attention at this track. The tyre choice will be very important."

Rossi starts Sunday's race 43-points behind Marquez, with just five rounds to go. Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, currently 18 points behind Rossi, qualified in third.

By Peter McLaren


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MM had absolutely no reason to fight with Rossi last year.

Except that of being jealous and annoyed by the fact that, in spite of being the fastest and biggest rising star motoGP, he was still overshadowed by the slower old man.

That and losing a couple of 1:1 battles with said slower old man, of course.

MM is the new VR. Without the ego.