Valentino's Saturday took a turn during the fourth practice session, “i expected to be faster” and, as if that weren't enough, he also suffered a crash. Not the best way to prepare for qualifying, but the Doctor proved to be more than prepared for the 15-minute session. At his last attempt, he was part of a compact group and was able to exploit that.
“There are usually at least two or three groups of riders on track, while today we were all together At Assen, the slipstream can make the difference, especially in the final sector, and it all depends on how you feel. Luck also plays a part and today and I was in the right place. I had fun”.
And scored a front row start…
“That's just the start. The important part is the race, but starting at the front is good. I'm pleased with this position, because after the crash I had to get the confidence and pace back, and I did that. I knew I could do well in qualifying after strong practice sessions”.
You're not the only member of the family on the front row, as your brother Luca Marini has scored the same result.
“I'm so happy, really pleased. Not just for him, but for the whole team: we've got three riders on the front row between Moto2 and Moto3. Bagnaia is a sure thing, Bulega seems to be coming back after a tough time. I'm happier for Luca of course, because I spend a lot of time with him. My advice for them all is to keep calm and run a good race. I think my brother has the pace to reach the podium”.
Do you also have the pace to aim high?
“i'd like to. When I was young and would win a lot, I was pleased when I came home with points starting with a 2, so for first or second place. Now 16 points are also OK, a podium is always important. I'm strong, but the problem is so is everyone else”.
What kind of race do you expect?
“I don't know, I think Marquez is strongest, then me, Vinales, Dovizioso and Crutchlow”.
Might we see a group race?
“We need to see what Marquez wants to do, if he wants to run a race that is more or less strategic. Lorenzo usually gets away well, but he seems slower than usual and is starting further back, if he was up to at least 5th by the end of lap one, that's already a lot. Assen is a track that tends towards group races though”.
In qualifying, the top ten riders are all within 4 tenths...
“That's one of the big differences compared to 15 years ago, in recent seasons we're all close and today even more so. The level of professionalism has increased and everyone works on the small details, turn by turn. Once upon a time it was more romantic, you went by feeling. Now you have to work more and sometimes that's more boring (he laughs)”.
Tyre choice will be key…
“It will be very important, because in the end all three rear tyres are valid options for the race. With the Bridgestone it was almost impossible to get it wrong, as only one worked, now it's more interesting. Sometimes you can have a small advantage, or a disadvantage. I still need to get my ideas straight”.