Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi is looking forward to an enjoyable and profitable penultimate MotoGP race of his illustrious career.
Starting from 16th at Portimao, the Petronas rider was positive about his progress across the Algarve weekend so far, with a top 10 aim for Sunday’s 25-lap contest.
“Today for me is better than yesterday,” Rossi said on Saturday evening. “This Saturday is more positive because already from this morning I was a bit more competitive but especially this afternoon. We improve the balance of the bike and especially we improve the feeling with the tyres. Looks like the tyres of today are better and also the condition of the track help us to have more grip.
“In FP4 I try medium and hard and at the end, I was able to improve my lap time on the last lap. In Q1 I was able to do a decent lap and I will start from 16th position, is better than my position in the last races and also I was able to ride well. I am less than one-second from the pole position, nine-tenths from the pole position, the problem is that you are 16th. Also in the FP4 my pace was less than one-second slower than the top guys but you are 18/17, now is like this. But I am happy with the feeling of the bike, we need to improve in two or three places, I have a bit too much understeer but I am not so bad about the pace.
“Today I try medium and hard on the rear and the feeling is very similar, the forecast for tomorrow is same than today, we will race at one o’clock here, and I think that is very open but that we can use the hard. I’m happy I can use the hard if we have enough temperature because I feel a bit better with the hard, especially for the pace, I am more constant.”
Questioned on if the result was important in these final two races, or if he was just setting out to enjoy them to his fullest as his career comes to an end, the veteran Italian explained they remain one and the same to him.
“The result is very important for the enjoyment, is very crucial,” he confirmed. “Because if you have a decent result, if you’re able to make a good race, you enjoy a lot more because it means that you feel good with the bike. You can push, when you are on the track with other guys you feel that you are fast in some places, so this is the best way to have fun. Misano was not too bad.
“We need to try to take some points,” he continued. “I think is possible and will depend very much from the type of race. A good target is try to arrive in the top 10.”
Once again his VR46 protégée will start from pole position, his fifth in a row to rival Rossi himself, but once again ‘the Doctor’ is worried for Pecco Bagnaia’s tyre selection.
“I’m very proud of Pecco. This year he is impressive, he make a big step and he ride the bike in an incredible way. Is a great show also to see him ride and I think that he is ready for next year. This year’ is a shame because I think he had the potential to fight with Fabio until the last race but I think that he is ready for fight for next year.
“I hope that he don’t make the pole position in Valencia!” he joked on Bagnaia’s potential to relieve him of his own record as the Italian with the most consecutive poles - from 2003/4 - before continuing with his concerns for this weekend.
“I’m very, very worried about his tyre choice, yes,” he confided. “Because at the end of the practice, he tests the medium and he was very, very fast also with the medium. So I am always worried about the tyre choice. I hope that this time make a good choice because anyway, he is fast with both and I think he is the faster man of the weekend, like in Misano. So I think that he can win, but he needs to make the right tyre choice. I will speak with him during this evening!”