Valentino Rossi was left “not very happy” after he failed to take advantage of some impressive pace at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday, but feels he can rescue a strong MotoGP result from the fourth row of the grid.

The 40-year old could only qualify a disappointing tenth after making several mistakes on his final flying lap, including a moment at the tricky turn three. The potential for a second row start was there, he said.

But the nine-time world champion wasn’t too downbeat. Rossi’s speed with race tyres is “good” and after discounting Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso, two of the riders with the strongest pace, he feels he can challenge toward the front.

“I’m not very happy for my position,” said Rossi. "We expect more. My pace with the race tyre is quite good, especially this morning I was strong. In the afternoon I suffer more but also because we work a lot with a setting and tyres that have a lot of laps. We expect to not stay in front.

“For the qualifying unfortunately on a good lap I did a mistake in some places, especially in turn three. You need to do the perfect lap because from P5 to P11 we are everybody in less than two tenths. The lap times are very balanced.

“Starting from the fourth row is not fantastic, for sure. I expect, I hoped to be on the second. But the pace is good. I’m not so bad. If you take out Marquez and Dovi, they are faster, Maverick is a little bit faster than me… But we are very close, six or seven riders.

“We need to try to make a good start and make the first corner in the best way. And we need to work a little bit because I am not fantastic in sector three. So we need to find something for tomorrow to be a bit better.

“We will see. We will wait for the conditions because the forecast for tonight is bad. It looks like tomorrow anyway will be dry and a bit more cold so we will see.”

The layout of the 2.6-mile Red Bull Ring may appear straightforward. But its three heavy braking areas require the utmost precision, not least when Yamaha’s contingent is battling against a clear top speed disparity.

“It’s true. In my long career I never saw an easy circuit. But when you arrive here you have just ten corners and a long straight. It can be easy compared to Austin, which has 20 corners.

“But it’s not true because every time you need to be perfect, especially in the hard braking. In MotoGP if you brake hard, you’re arriving at close to 300kph (186mph), and you have to slow down the bike from high speed. It’s not easy.

“I suffer in the section three, in the two left corners maybe because I have chattering. We need to fix this because in the other parts of the circuit, especially section four with the two rights, I am good with the bike.

“Especially we are better than in the past because we improve the electronics system and it looks like we’re constant. This is very important.”

On whether he is worried by rain that is forecast for Saturday night and whether that may lead to less grip like Brno last week, Rossi added, “Could be. But it’s not sure. Also in Brno it rained before the race but in the end I was not so bad. So sincerely it’s not for sure. It’s a maybe.

“But also maybe there is less temperature and usually with more cold we a little bit better. The important thing is that we can have a completely dry race and we’ll see.”

 

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