Valentino Rossi claimed his first MotoGP front row start since Austin in April as he put his Monster Yamaha second on the grid at Silverstone.

After sinking to a 'very slow' low just before the summer break, Rossi has been on an upward curve since Brno.

Even towing Marc Marquez to pole position couldn't dampen Rossi's spirits as he sets his sights on ending a podium drought that also stretches back to round three at COTA.

"Already from Friday I felt good with the bike and had a quite good pace," Rossi said. "We worked in a good way during practice. Also in FP4 I was strong, so I knew that the qualifying was very important because now if you want to fight for the podium you have to start in the first five, six places maximum.

"Qualifying was a bit tricky because I [left the pits] last with the first tyre but on the back straight everybody was waiting. So from last out, I arrived first on the grid.

"But I didn’t want to tow everybody, so I slowed down, but I also know I have just one card to play [to set a fast time]. At the end, I had Marc and Jack behind me but I had to try and the last lap was a great lap. I enjoy very much."

Reflecting on his return to form after a nightmare run that included three successive DNFs earlier in the season, Rossi said:

"It looks like I am quite competitive. This is so important because in the mid part of the season we suffer very much. I was very slow… We were in a very bad situation. We got a little bit lost because I was not able to ride the bike.

"Here you see also with Lorenzo, if you are not at 100% and if you don’t ride your bike at 100%, now you are not P7, you are P18 because everybody is strong.

"But after the summer break, from Brno, we changed quite a lot on the bike. Step-by-step I was able to recover the feeling. So it’s good to be strong here because Austria was better than Brno, and here is a little bit better than Austria."

As the oldest rider on the grid, whenever Rossi struggles, he knows questions about his age will soon follow.

"It’s normal that at my age and in my point of career if I make three very bad races people start to say he’s old and it’s time to stay at home. I think it’s like this," said the nine-time world champion.

"But for this reason I’m more happy because I know that if I ride well I can be competitive. It [the front row] is already a good result, but the most important thing is tomorrow, to try to make a good race and fight for the podium.

"For me we have five, six riders with a very good pace. So it will be important to make everything at the maximum from the start."

Quizzed on how his M1 has improved in recent rounds, Rossi replied: "We work well in acceleration and especially we try to save the tyres because in the last years we always suffer about tyre degradation especially compared to the Honda and the Ducati.

"So we start to work in a more clever way. It looks like already with some small adjustments, the bike is better. We accelerate better and especially it's more easy to ride in more or less all the parts of the corners.

"Silverstone is good for Yamaha but also in Austria we were not so bad. A lot better than in the last years."

One area where the M1 is unable to improve during this season, due to the engine-freeze regulations, is top speed.

"For sure with our top speed it’s difficult to overtake. We suffer very much. We get stuck behind a slower rider because the top speed is a big problem for us.

"To stay in front and try to block Marquez you need to be very, very fast. Looks like he is the guy with the most pace, so I don’t know. We will see. I think that also Quartararo and Vinales, but also Jack have a good pace, Also Rins and Dovi and Crutchlow.

"The list is very long. Maybe we will all stay together…"

Although winless since Assen 2017, Rossi is currently the top Yamaha rider in the world championship standings, in fifth, but only a single point ahead of team-mate Vinales.

Vinales will start sixth on the grid tomorrow, with Petronas Yamaha rookie Fabio Quartararo in fourth place.



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