Fifth place in qualifiers at Mugello for Lorenzo, who throws a few darts at the presumed Rossi/Vinales "duo", with the latter allowing the number 46 Yamaha to start from the first spot on the grid tomorrow just a few minutes from the end. It was a game of slipstreaming that Valentino exploited well in the last few moments of qualifying to deal a blow for the race.
Rossi Vinales "Alliance", simple coincidence, or Valentino’s skill at seizing the right moment to improve his time? The World champion has his own ideas about it:
"Maverick has always been a great admirer of Valentino’s, so this game of slipstreaming doesn’t surprise me. But it is allowed, it’s not against the rules, and they did it well. It is something that gives an advantage and that allowed Rossi to improve a lot. It doesn’t matter to me. As a rider I always prefer to make my own way."
A game of slipstreaming that, it would seem, Iannone also used with Lorenzo.
"Iannone has been consistent throughout the weekend. I’m happy for him that he is on the first row. This time he deserves it because he was very fast. In Australia he improved by three or four tenths staying behind, but here he was fast from the start and he would have made the time even without a tow."
The word "biscotto" (race-fixing) is flying around, but it’s a term that Lorenzo does not consider: "This story of "biscotto" is a theory that people who hang around Rossi pulled out last year, before and after Valencia. I think I rode a good race there: there were parts of the track where I was faster and others where I wasn’t as fast, but I was in the lead from start to finish, without anyone being able to overtake me. For tomorrow I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know if they have a plan or not, but I don’t think there is one. Everyone wants to win and that’s the way it will be tomorrow."
Would you also have been able to do a better time with a tow from someone?
"Yes, maybe, but it depends on what you are used to. There are riders that use that to improve, who hang back and then follow you. As long as I race I will always make my own way. Otherwise it’s a bit like copying homework at school."
For the race tomorrow some fine tuning on the settings are needed, but Lorenzo has his sights set on the podium: "We need to improve a bit on pace. I’m hoping for a 47"6, that way we’ll be able to fight for the win, otherwise we’ll need to be patient and at least try to finish on the podium."