Alex Rins paid the embarrassing price for choosing to stick behind Valentino Rossi in an effort to get a tow for his final flying lap of Q1 as holding back prevented him from beginning it on time.

A dismal day in Mugello for the Spaniard, who sits third overall coming into the Italian MotoGP, Rins was already on the back foot after a crash early in FP3 scuppered his hopes of making Q2 automatically having been seventh overnight.

Battling a lack of confidence on the Suzuki GSX-RR as a result, Rins was nonetheless in the fight for the top two positions in Q1 early on and sat second – albeit on the bubble – until the closing seconds, only to demoted at the death by Andrea Dovizioso, leaving him a net 13th.

Worst of all, Rins didn’t even get to react to the danger because, having followed Rossi out of the pit lane and chosen to stay behind in order to benefit from the invaluable tow off the Yamaha, he hadn’t realised he’d run out of time to start the lap.

While Rossi also missed out, the fractions of a second that stopped his chance means Rins would have definitely been able to start his lap had he focused on the stopwatch rather than his rival.

“I lost some confidence after my crash, but I recovered it in the later sessions. For the final lap of Q1, I exited the pits at the same time as Rossi, he was behind me on the time sheets and I thought he would be pushing, so I intended to stay behind him on the track as it’s always easier here with a tow.

“But in the end the lap got messed up and I just lost out on Q2. Tomorrow I’ll try to put together a good race, there are many competitive riders at the front, and I’ll push hard to be up with them.”

Disappointment all round for Suzuki Ecstar, Rins’ team-mate Joan Mir barely featured all day as he struggled to get acquainted with Mugello on a much more powerful bike than he is used to. He starts down in 20th.

“Qualifying was tough, I couldn’t manage to do a fast lap. I was trying to improve my lap time, but I was in a big group and I didn’t see the chequered flag, which was a shame because I felt I had good pace at the end of the session.

“It will be interesting to start this Italian Grand Prix from 20th place, I think it will still be a nice race because I feel that I’ll be able to get into a rhythm tomorrow. We’ll see what happens!”

Despite Rins’ lowly starting position, it’s become a feature of his season so far with a 10-16-7-9-19 spread of grid starts followed by strong gains come race day of 4-5-1-2-10.

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