Valentino Rossi was at a loss to explain his lack of speed on Saturday afternoon after another lousy qualifying performance that left him 14th on the grid.

Like a disastrous home round at Mugello, Rossi’s efforts began to unravel toward the end of FP3 when a lap that comfortably placed him inside the top ten was chalked off as he exceeded track limits on the exit of the final chicane.

From there, the Italian faced a task entering Q1. But despite Alex Rins being the only other big hitter in the first 15-minute shootout, Rossi’s charge never got going.

He was unable to find comfort aboard his M1, particularly through Assen’s numerous fast changes of direction. In the end he will plot a charge through the field from the fifth row.

“This morning I was not so bad and especially I was able to make a very good lap at the end that was good for the Q2,” said the 40-year old. But unfortunately I touch the green exit of the last chicane and they cancelled the lap.

“But I was quite optimistic because with the speed of this morning I think that I have enough potential to go to Q2. But unfortunately in the afternoon I was more in trouble with more temperature and lose a lot of grip and I lose performance and I was quite slow so I wasn’t able to improve.

“So I have to start from quite back on the grid and also will be hard because anyway my pace is not fantastic, so for sure it will be a tough race.”

There were similarities with Mugello again in that he struggled with the hotter afternoon temperatures after appearing more competitive in the cooler morning.

This was puzzling when compared to the sheer speed of pole sitter Fabio Quartararo and team-mate Maverick Viñales, who start from first and second on the grid.

When asked about his struggles compared to the two other Yamahas, Rossi was unsure. “The problem is that we have just one good bike and one race is for me and one race for Maverick so this time is Maverick’s turn,” he quipped.

“Apart from the joke, I don’t know, Maverick and also Quartararo are very strong during this weekend, they are able to be very fast.

“On the other side, me and Franco [Morbidelli] we suffer more, I don’t feel very comfortable with the bike. Also in the fast part I am not fast enough and this makes everything more difficult.

“Now we have to see, we have to work this evening to understand if we are able to be a bit stronger and after we see. But sincerely, we don’t know why.”

 

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