It was since 2009 that Valentino Rossi hadn't started from the front row in an American race. That year, he was racing at Laguna Seca. In Austin, the Doctor did nothing wrong, and getting behind Marquez in Texas is still a great feat. In fact, he couldn't be happier, even if his doubts for tomorrow haven’t been dispelled. Losing a practice session doesn't help, and this applies to all riders.
Valentino, tomorrow you'll be starting with Marquez. Do you think you'll make the kill?
"It would be great to be able to beat Marc, and I'll definitely try. Compared to the past few years, the difference is less, but he's still the fastest. Let's say that it would be nice to ride alongside him, but there are also many other fast riders. For example, Vinales. I'll have to do my best to stay in front of him."
What are your thoughts on the eve of the race?
"Unfortunately, we weren't able to work much today, and there were 5 riders that were stronger than me on the pace yesterday. I made some changes to the M1 and, in qualifying, I felt better, but I wasn’t able to check the race pace."
Will the warm up be very important?
“Certainly, especially in choosing the tires. I could use soft or medium for the front, and even all three options for the rear."
Yamaha seems to have taken the right path...
"We're working well on both the bike and the tires. It's been since Argentina that I can be competitive on every turn."
Your physiotherapist was in the paddock. Is there something wrong?
"In the FP4, it was my shoulder, maybe because I hadn't warm-uped properly after missing the morning run. Now everything has been taken care of.”
The holes are a problem for everyone, but the M1 seems to absorb them well...
"One of the strong points of our bike is precisely its stability. We're also strong on this track because of that aspect."
Kenny Roberts is in the paddock. He's still going strong on the bike. Do you think you'll be able to do the same at his age?
"Kenny is one of the biggest names in motorcycling because he did something special. He's one of my father, Graziano's, heroes. He told me that when he arrived in Europe, he changed our sport with a new style of riding that was different from everyone else's. I remember when, in 2009, in Indianapolis, he was very strong on the 2-stroke flat track Yamaha 750. Riding like him at over 60? I hope so!" (He laughed).