Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi believes that his years of experience using Michelin tyres have helped in the transition away from Bridgestone and in particular could be part of the reason he is now able to qualify well at every race.
Today at Jerez, Rossi took his first pole since Assen last year but in the four 15-minute qualifying sessions so far this year - which last season saw him on the third row more often than not - he has been only out of the top three once.
“Maybe because I grew up as a rider with these tyres and I arrived with the Bridgestone already quite old for my career. Also with Michelin usually in the qualifying you use the soft and for the race the hard, but with Bridgestone a lot of times you have to make qualifying with the same tyre as the race. But sincerely I also don't know why,” said Rossi, speaking at the track.
“In the Michelin era I was always very, very fast in this track. But after with the Bridgestone, sincerely, I struggled more. I did some good races but I feel not strong enough. Especially last year, at the end it was a podium but I was struggling all weekend.
“So we try to start from Friday with the right concentration and sincerely I feel very good with the bike from first practice and also with the tyres, and we work very well. So looks like this year in the qualifying I'm stronger and faster compared to last year becaue last year was one of my weak points, with the Michelin I feel better. I was on the front row at the last two grands prix but to make the pole position is another taste.”
Rossi still hasn’t decided on his race tyre choice for tomorrow as higher temperatures will infuence his decision.
“The race is always very difficult because to stay in front and try to fight for victory you have to start well, you have to be fast in the first laps and at the same time keep a great rhythm in the second half of the race,” he said.
“The tyre choice will be important. It is still open so we need to understand the way to follow, but I think we can be competitive. For sure I feel stronger than last year here, but we need to wait for tomorrow to understand if it is enough to fight for victory or not.”