Sometimes the student exceeds the master. Two did so during the qualifying sessions in Jerez. Bagnaia robbed Valentino of the possibility of entering Q2, while Morbidelli conquered the front row with an (almost) twin Yamaha. "Am I proud of them? I will be Monday. I don't like them much today," the Doctor laughed.
The 13th starting position means having a long road ahead to recover, more complicated than usual on a narrow and winding track that doesn't allow for great overtaking possibilities. Especially when everything is not perfect on your bike.
"Yesterday, I was pretty desperate, but today I managed to improve a lot," stated Rossi with some optimism. "The FP3 was good. I was satisfied with my pace with the medium rear tire, which may be an option for the race, and also with my speed with the soft one."
But that wasn't enough to enter directly into Q2...
"I made a mistake on the last lap, and the red flag upset my strategy. I honestly didn't expect not to be in the top 10. I was also a bit unlucky.”
It didn't go any better in the qualifying sessions...
"I found traffic in the last exit, had a close call, and Pecco put me out (he said smiling). Lately, Jerez is not a fantastic track for our team, and we had further confirmation of this."
A tough track for the official team but not for Yamaha, seeing what the two Petronas riders did...
"I'm as surprised as everyone else by this double win, but not by the level reached by Quartararo and Morbidelli. Both immediately liked the M1. They've been fast ever since the winter tests, and they were a masterpiece today."
From the outside, it's difficult to understand how satellite motorcycles can be faster than the official ones...
"Maybe Fabio and Franco are better than me, or they like Jerez better or drive better. However, there are no big differences between our M1s. Morbidelli's is the most similar but even Quartararo's is not that different. I saw Fabio on the track. He rides well and enters corners in a very natural way, while I suffer precisely in that aspect."
"I also have to say that Vinales raced with more or less their times. I'm the one who is farther back. I've been struggling for a while in Jerez, and I don't know why."
What are your hopes for the race?
"As I said, my pace is not so bad. We have to see what will happen because there are so many riders on different bikes with a similar pace between each other. Tonight's work in the pit will be very important because I struggle too much in some areas."
Who do you see as a favorite?
"I'd say that the fastest are Marquez, Dovizioso, and Petrucci. They have something more than all the others. My potential is certainly better than the 13th place I'll be starting from, but starting from the fifth row will be a hassle. It complicates everything. I'm not as fast as I was in Argentina or Austin, but it's better than it looks."