Rossi in particular made impressive progress after struggling to the thirteenth fastest time yesterday, mounting a strong challenge this afternoon in an entertaining battle for pole position that was eventually won by Nicky Hayden (Honda). Whilst Sete Gibernau and Alex Barros (both Honda) join Hayden on the front row, Rossi ended the session only 0.188 seconds off the day’s best time and the Italian was satisfied both with the steps taken with the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine and with a fourth-place start on the grid. Edwards also made encouraging progress, although he was unable to find the perfect compromise setting for the track, which places drastically diverse demands on the machine throughout the contrasting fast and slow sections. The American eventually qualified seventh fastest and will head the third row of the grid tomorrow.
VALENTINO ROSSI (4th – 1’22.973; 29 laps)
“I’m much happier today - the team have done a great job to get the bike working well here because it is such a peculiar circuit. Yesterday we lost our direction a little bit but today we made a lot of progress. In the morning we were able to sort out the problems we had on the front end and in the afternoon we made a big step forward on the rear, even with the race tyre. I made a mistake in the final corner on my fast lap that probably cost me a tenth but I am still only 0.188 seconds from the pole. Considering where we were yesterday, I am happy with that. Tomorrow will be a very hard race because there are four or five riders who have the pace to run at the front, but we’ve done a good job today and I think we can be there with them.”
COLIN EDWARDS (7th – 1’23.139; 31 laps)
“We made some progress today but it is still a struggle! This morning I put on a qualifier in the free practice just to test it out and only then was I able to set a fast lap. I’m losing three tenths of a second in the third section, which we just can’t seem to work out. Three tenths is a lot over a whole lap, especially here, but to lose it in one split is hard to swallow. To be honest though, things were so bad yesterday that if you’d have told me I’d be seventh fastest today and starting from the front of the third row, I wouldn’t have been too upset. We know exactly where the problem is and the team are doing everything they can to fix it. We’ve just got to work extremely hard in the warm-up tomorrow to try to come up with a solution.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
“The team has reacted well to the problems we had yesterday and both riders have been able to improve their times. Actually, Valentino put in a few good laps at a decent pace and a second row start is not a problem for him. I am confident he will be there to fight in the race as usual. Colin has a more difficult job starting from the third row, but hopefully he can make some improvements in the morning and stick with the front group in the race. We’ll see what happens in the race tomorrow but so far I am very happy with the team and their reaction to a tough situation yesterday. Hopefully we can go on holiday in a good mood!”