Valentino Rossi has perhaps never seen a Mugello like this, not even in his worst nightmares. Starting 18th on the grid at his home round is definitely not what Valentino wanted, but it's what he finds himself dealing with.
“I didn't expect so suffer this weekend- he begins - I thought we'd be quite competitive considering last year too, but we've not been fast and we can't always perform a miracle. Yesterday I was slow, today I improved but the biggest mistake came on my last lap in FP3, an error that meant I wasted the lap that could have put me straight into Q2."
As a result #46 had to take on Q1, where things got even worse. Today's qualifying was Rossi's worst session since Assen 2006, at a track where he was won on nine occasions and where he scored pole last year.
“In Q1 I knew I had to battle against riders who are faster over the flying lap, like Dovizioso or Pirro, and my speed actually got worse this afternoon. I tried to catch a slipstream but didn't manage to, I followed Rins but was unable to get a tow, so I missed out on the chance to complete another lap by just one second. Nothing much would have changed though, as I wasn't quick enough to improve my time”.
The slipstream is one of the hot topics of the day, particularly in light of the Marquez – Dovizioso affair, and Valentino says his piece.
“At this track it's important to find the slipstream so everyone tries it. Some get angry and some put up with it, I don't know how to solve it. You need to be cunning in those situations and Marquez is, he used Dovi's slipstream and managed to score pole, he did well. Marc usually struggles at this track but today he seemed comfortable, he can win here too I think”.
Meanwhile, Valentino is in for a tough race from the sixth row.
“My pace isn't bad but not great either, so it will be a tough race: I need to start well to make up some places and bring home as many points as possible. I don't know what we can do in terms of results but starting 18th doesn't help”.
To finish, Vale explains his special helmet, admired by his many fans.
“The helmet is totally hand painted with a brush, similar to what I used in testing but a tricolour version. I like it and think it's very elegant the fans? The atmosphere will be as special as ever tomorrow, we need to give it our all”.