Valentino Rossi sealed his tenth front-row start of the season ahead of tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi today, the Italian taking second place on an all-Michelin front row in between Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden. Colin Edwards also had a good session, qualifying seventh at the head of the third row.
After making a poor start to the weekend by finishing 14th yesterday, Rossi made a step up this morning and put in the second fastest time in free practice. His qualifying session did not get off to plan however as he made an off-track excursion in the opening minutes and then found himself down in 18th place mid-way through. Edwards meanwhile, was doing little better in 17th, but both began to steadily improve as they worked on refining their race settings and finalizing their tyre choices for tomorrow
Once it came down to qualifying tyres it was clear that Rossi especially was on top form and his first run put him in second place, before improving again with his second tyre and moving one place higherPedrosa was even faster however and, despite Rossi's Michelin tyre working well enough to give him a second flying lap, a small mistake on the last corner cost him a few tenths and he was unable to better the Spaniard. Edwards also put in two good qualifying laps and looked to have sixth in the bag before he was edged down one place by Toni Elias.
Tomorrow's 24-lap race gets underway at 1400 Japanese time. Rossi must finish in front of Casey Stoner in order to keep his championship hopes alive for another race; the Australian will start from ninth tomorrow, on the outside of the third row.
Valentino Rossi "I'm in good shape and I'm very happy with this result after the problems we had yesterday. We were struggling a lot but everyone has worked very hard and today has been much, much better. We tried some modifications and now I can use the throttle well and the grip from the tyres is good. In fact today the tyre situation is really a lot better and I can use my M1 how I want to, with a good rhythm. This morning especially was a big improvement although this afternoon we tried some different things again and it wasn't quite so good to start with.