In the wake of another staggering performance, even Valentino Rossi was taken aback at his ability to post the third fastest time in MotoGP qualifying at Aragon, just 23 days after suffering a double fracture to his right leg.

On Saturday evening Rossi admitted his qualifying feats came as “a surprise”, and is hopeful that he will feel a similar improvement to the leg ahead of race day, just as he did from Friday to this morning’s free practice session.

Rossi didn’t feel a great deal of pain through the day, he said, but admitted he will not know whether he will have the strength and fitness to complete the demanding 23-lap race until tomorrow morning.

“Is a surprise also for me, also for us because I don't know what I have to expect,” said Rossi, who qualified behind Maverick Viñales and Jorge Lorenzo. “One week ago started to think that maybe is possible ride in Aragon. So, did some lap with the R1. I understand that I can ride, but with a lot of pain.

“But I was lucky because the leg improve every day. Friday when first ride the M1 I feel already more comfortable than Tuesday. Also for the position on the bike, the M1 is more comfortable and better for my size.

“Riding yesterday on the wet was not so bad. I don’t feel a lot of pain in the leg, but I don't know on the dry. But already this morning I feel quite good. I can ride with some pain, but not too much so I can concentrate on the ride.

“My position on the bike is not perfect, but quite close to the normal one. We work very well also with the team for the qualifying. I feel good with the bike. With the second tyre I was able to do a very good lap.

“Starting from the front row is important always. For me tomorrow is also more important because usually is more easy from the top. We need to understand, we need to work still because with the race tyre my pace is not fantastic but we try to important tomorrow.”

On the possibility of completing the 23 laps around the demanding 3.1-mile Aragon track, he continued: “Friday morning when I wake up I had pain. This morning when I wake up I was already in a better shape. So, if continue like this and tomorrow make another step, for me with the leg I can do all the race, but we need to wait.

“We need to see. For sure with the race tyres the bike is a bit more difficult to ride, more demanding. The race is difficult for everybody in a normal condition. For sure I have to suffer but I will try.

“You have to try step by step. Try to improve lap by lap, practice by practice also the setting of the bike. For sure try to take a little bit more margin for try to don’t make any mistakes. I feel comfortable on the bike already from Friday.

“When I ride, I’m not on the maximum but I don’t feel a lot of pain, so is okay. For sure the most difficult day will be tomorrow because the race is always hard also in a normal condition but we try.”

Rookie Johann Zarco admitted to being in awe of what Rossi had achieved with his injury:

"It's incredible. I said on Thursday it would be a shame on everyone who is behind him - and I accept that! It is not normal. He is like a genius, a very clever rider; he knows when to push and how to set the bike up with his team. Respect. I'm fitter than him, but he is in front of me."



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