Fiat Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards are faced with a difficult challenge for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang after struggling during qualifying this afternoon. The team worked hard throughout the day to rectify the lack of grip from which both riders have been suffering, but they were unable to find a competitive package and the pair now face a daunting task for tomorrow's 21-lap race when they start from ninth and thirteenth positions.
The rain stayed away today and during this morning's session, with temperatures in the low 30s and conditions of the newly improved track becoming increasingly more consistent as more rubber was laid down, times improved all round. Rossi and Edwards both made some positive steps forward and finished the session in seventh and thirteenth, confident of more improvements this afternoon. However this was not to be and a lack of grip on race tyres this afternoon kept the pair down in the lower orders, before they made their qualifying challenges in the last 15 minutes.Rossi briefly held second after his first qualifying lap but several riders went faster and a small mistake with his second tyre meant he was unable to improve again. Ninth place puts him on the outside of the third row, whilst Edwards will start from the head of the fifth row after failing to find a comfortable rhythm with either of his qualifying tyres.
Valentino Rossi, "This morning things were feeling better for us and we were a little bit more confident. Unfortunately this afternoon, with the higher temperatures, our tyres didn't work in the same way and we were much slower and sliding quite a lot. With the qualifying tyre I was quite confident and they worked quite well, as they have all season, and I thought there was a chance for the front row. With the second one I thought we could improve again but I had a slide in the third section and lost some time, and so now we are on the third row. I am quite disappointed because our race pace is not good at the moment and we needed to be on the front row to give us the best chance possible for tomorrow. It will be difficult to use the warm-up to our advantage because the conditions are different to those we will probably have during the race, but anyway we will do what we can and try to make the best from the situation.