Valentino Rossi overcame a late brake issue with one of his Monster Yamaha bikes during the closing minutes of FP2 to start his final soft tyre run and secure a provisional Q2 spot ahead of the Japanese MotoGP.

After pitting in preparation for his final run, Rossi was held up outside of his garage when his first YZR-M1 suffered a brake problem meaning he had to switch back to his second bike with a different setup on fresh soft tyres for his qualifying-style run.

Despite being made to sweat, Rossi charged into the Q2 spots with fifth place thanks to a 1m 45.466s – albeit over seven-tenths of a second slower than pace-setter Fabio Quartararo.

“We tried to save a bit of time to do the time attack at the end, because the forecast for tomorrow is very bad,” Rossi said. “Unfortunately, we had a problem with the brakes on the first bike, so we had to take out the tyres and put them on the second bike, which was set up a bit different, but at the end I was able to start my second lap of run 4 with just 10s to spare.

“I did a good lap and I’m in the top 10, that’s very important because it looks like tomorrow the weather will be bad.”

Rossi has notched up consecutive eighth-place finishes at the past two races and is currently on his longest podium drought since his first year at Ducati back in 2011.

The nine-time world champion has reverted to the aluminium swingarm and single pipe exhaust on his M1, having used a carbon swingarm and Suzuki-style double pipe exhaust at recent races, as he looks to cure his recent tyre wear woes over a race distance.

After a productive Friday practice at Motegi, the Italian rider is feeling optimistic with his progress as he looks to uncover why his fellow Yamaha riders have been able to solve the tyre drop off problem.

“For the rest, it’s not so bad. My pace is quite good,” he said.

“As always, we need to understand the tyres, because a lot of riders also use the soft rear, which looks like it’s a bit faster. We’ll see. We have to keep working, but my pace is quite good, and the first day was quite positive.”

All four Yamaha riders ended Friday inside the top six at Motegi, a circuit which hasn’t suited the Iwata factory in recent years, with the last Yamaha podium finish coming back in 2015.

While Quartararo topped the times, Rossi’s Monster Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales claimed second place with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) just behind Rossi in sixth place.

 

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