Valentino Rossi says the decision to bring the Malaysian MotoGP race forward on Sunday is a ‘clever move’.

The Movistar Yamaha rider qualified third fastest in the wet in Q2 behind Marc Marquez and Johann Zarco, but Rossi has been promoted to second place after Marquez was hit with a six-place grid penalty for an incident involving Andrea Iannone, with Zarco now lining up on pole.

Speaking before the decision to penalise Marquez was announced, Rossi said: “At one point in the box we think that maybe o qualifying because the forecast said it would rain very hard to eight o’clock. So if you see the free practice time, I was ninth, so I would have to start from the third row. It’s a lot better from the front because it is very important for the race and also I feel good with the bike.

“In the wet, I can ride in a good way that is not so bad and now we have to wait for the conditions because for me, it is a clever choice to run the race at one o’clock,” Rossi added.

“We will have more chance of a dry race but especially we will have more chance to race because it we wait to three o’clock, maybe we don’t race. So this is good and we will wait, we will see.”

Rossi is generally satisfied with his pace in the dry, although he says he has work to do, with Marquez and Maverick Vinales boasting a stronger race pace than the Italian.

“On the dry I am not so bad, especially Friday I was stronger, but today I worked more with the used tyre and my pace was quit good, but especially Marquez and Vinales were stronger than me. So we need to work and try to see if we can improve for tomorrow,” he said.

“Last year, with the 2017 bike, it was a nightmare in the wet. We always wake up in the morning and open the window slowly, scared that it will be wet! This bike here is a lot better, you can feel, but it don’t rain a lot this year and we don’t know, but the first impression was quit good.”

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