Valentino Rossi was left frustrated by an error in strategy during MotoGP qualifying at Valencia, which left him twelfth on the grid and anticipating “a hard race” on Sunday.

The 40-year old found himself on track at the wrong moment with a used rear tyre with slower riders ahead in the second half of Q2, leaving him 0.9s off the pace of pole sitter Fabio Quartararo.

“Sometimes [the strategy] works, sometimes not,” Rossi began. “You try to make the strategy more precise but after you need to also be lucky. Today I was also unlucky because I take Pol Espargaro that was in the track with a used tyre.

“Anyway I don’t have to be there. But anyway it looks like that we are not fantastic to make strategy. We need to improve. Next year we need to try and work in another way.

“It’s a mixed day because this morning in FP3 was good. The conditions were not fantastic. It was very, very cold. But I was able to do a good lap at the end and finish in the P4 so I went straight into the Q2. That was our target.

“In the afternoon we worked for the race with hard tyres to understand the pace. After in qualifying I am not very happy. We do not work well. We didn’t choose the right strategy and I was on the track with the hard tyre in the wrong moment.

“Unfortunately I was not able to improve because I had too much traffic. So our potential for sure was better. Like this starting from twelfth is difficult. Here in Valencia it’s very difficult to overtake. Also because my pace is not too bad, but nothing fantastic.

“It will be a hard race. It will be very important the start as always, the start and the first two or three laps try to gain some positions, try and make some right choice, some right line. After we’ll see what happens in the rest of the race.”

Asked to judge the merits of 2019, a season in which he has scored just two podium finishes, Rossi said that personally it has been “difficult,” but noted a real turnaround in the fortunes of Yamaha.

“For me personally it’s a difficult season. The results are not what we expected. We expected better, to be competitive and stronger. We passed through some difficult period, especially in the first half of the championship.

“After we gain and we are a bit more fast. We improve a bit the situation and I was not able to make a podium even if arrive a lot of time close to the podium. So it’s a difficult season.

“On the other part for Yamaha it’s an important season. In 2017 and 2018 we lose a lot compared to our opponents. Technically we were lost. It looks like this year Yamaha worked in a better way and it’s the first step to come back to the top I think.

“We can be optimistic for the future for Yamaha because finally this year they work better and we improved the bike.”

 

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