First pole of 2014 for Lorenzo at Misano
At a track where he has a phenomenal record – with three wins in his last three visits – Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) sped around the Misano layout with a 1’33.238 lap time to grab his first pole since Motegi 2013.
Just 0.051s behind Lorenzo, Iannone (Pramac Racing) matched his best ever MotoGP™ qualifying result, despite a fall on Friday which saw him take a heavy ankle knock.
Completing the front row at his home track, nine time World Champion Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) qualified in third – his best grid result since he was also third in Australia last season.
Meanwhile, for the first time this season World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) qualified off the front row, lapping 0.122s down on Lorenzo’s pole time in fourth place.
On the other side of the Repsol Honda garage Dani Pedrosa slotted his RC213V into fifth spot on the grid, with a time just 0.058s slower than that of Marquez.
A further 0.021s margin behind Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completed the second row.
The third row of the grid for Sunday’s round 13 contest will comprise brothers Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) and Englishman Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3).
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) heads row four in tenth following a crash in the session which he escaped unharmed. The German had made it through from Q1 along with Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing) who qualified 11th, just in front of Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini).
Rossi on family, racing, rivals, Honda and Ducati
Having qualified on the front row for Sunday’s race at his home track, Rossi is in a good position to produce another memorable performance in front of the Italian fans.
With the Misano circuit being just a short drive from his home town of Tavullia this is always a special weekend on the MotoGP™ calendar for Rossi, though of course riding at home brings extra responsibility.
He commented, “It’s quite hard. On the one hand it’s really nice because perhaps after talking to you I can go home and eat there, which is obviously convenient, but on the other hand I have so many friends and family who want to come to the race. It’s tricky, you have to manage the situation carefully.”
Regarding who will be there to support him, he was asked if his father Graziano would be at the track. “Actually, he has come to less races this year,” replied Rossi. “He comes when he can and we always talk about the technical side of things. Sometimes he helps to explain how I can ride well or the reason why I might not have beaten someone. It’s always interesting to explain to him what we are doing on the bike and get his point of view.”
About his mother, Rossi added, “She comes to some races, not all of them, but that’s ok. When she comes sometimes I tense up and feel more pressure. She also thinks she knows a lot about bikes, she talks to me about the front tyre, the bike settings and how to go fast on the corners. I always just say, ‘Yes mum, ok, ok!”
Rossi also recognizes that for his brother Luca Marini the going could be tough given that he has such a famous and successful older sibling. “Yes, it is very difficult for him. He has some advantages, but there are also many drawbacks. His choice to become a rider is a brave one. But he's good, he goes very fast. We have a problem, because he is getting too tall, taller than me, but he likes riding, he is passionate.”
Quizzed about his view on this year’s dominance of the premier class by Marc Marquez and the suggestion that when Rossi was similarly dominant on the Honda certain people claimed it was the bike that made the difference, the Italian noted, “Honda are very strong, that's fine; it is probably the best bike at this time. But in any case, Marc, both this year and last has made a difference in a situation exactly the same as when I did well with Honda. The Honda was the best bike, but Gibernau, Biaggi, my teammate, Hayden and Ukawa also had Hondas. But we don’t know if I won because I had the Honda. So I had to go to Yamaha and I think I have shown that I won because I was the strongest.”
Asked about the importance of surrounding himself with a trusted team, just as Marquez has done this year, Rossi commented: “For me that is very important because you need to have good, skilled people doing their jobs around you, of course, but it is also important to have people that you can trust, and there are not many. I like having a family atmosphere when I'm here at the races, because they make me feel calm and I know I can just focus on riding the bike.”
Rossi also took the opportunity to clarify recent quotes he had made where it was interpreted that he had regretted his decision to ride for Ducati for two seasons.
“Honestly, when I was asked again about it I couldn’t remember the comments well. The sentence was within a larger statement. In a certain sense I have not regretted having gone to Ducati, because it was a major challenge and if I had also managed to win with Ducati it would have been something very special, because it was an Italian rider with an Italian bike. But as I said, unfortunately, it was a mistake because I did not win and, therefore, if I had stayed at Yamaha certainly I could have won other races and fought for the title, which I didn’t do with Ducati. But if I had to go back, I would do it again.”
One thing Rossi says he would not do again is put up a wall between his side of the Yamaha garage and Lorenzo’s side.
He explained, “No, I wouldn’t, because it didn’t help. I hoped that, with the wall, the data wouldn’t be transferred between the two teams. But the wall was there and the data was shared. But it was a mistake on my part. It all started because, for all I had done for Yamaha, after so many years that they did not win and then they won again, I expected more recognition. I did not expect them to put Jorge Lorenzo in the team, because Jorge was already very strong.”
“But then over the years and reconsidering it with a cool head, Yamaha did well, they were right, because it is right that a team like Yamaha Factory has two riders who can win and recognition in sport is something relative. But it was right because for Yamaha it was very important to have Jorge Lorenzo and therefore I think they made the right choice. Now I’m very pleased to make a team with him. Also because, at first, the first year, he learned a lot from me, but in these years I am also learning a lot from him and, therefore, the important thing is to try to have the two bikes at the front, to try and beat the Honda and if there are two of us it’s easier. But a teammate is always a rival.”
Finally, Rossi was asked which past riders he would have most liked to have measured himself against. The Doctor replied: "I would have liked to see how Giacomo Agostini rode and certainly Mike Hailwood, who are probably the two greatest ever. But I would have also liked competing against Schwantz and Rainey, Doohan and Lawson. Those 500cc years were really historical.”