Valentino Rossi feels Aleix Espargaro is the favourite to win this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix after another impressive showing from the Spaniard on Friday. Espargaro has topped every practice session so far on the soft tyres but Rossi thinks his pace on the medium tyre should see him carry his advantage into race day.
“The bigger problem for us is the new tyre from Bridgestone that provides a lot less grip on the edge of our bike so it’s difficult. I’m just tenth which is the minimum target, to stay in the top ten. A lot of riders are on the same pace though; we are very, very close. Espargarò remains one step ahead and also with race pace he is very fast. I think on Sunday we will all use the same tyre, Open Class and Factory but he remains the favourite for the race. The target is to try to start more in front in the race because it’s very difficult to overtake so tomorrow in the qualifying I have to go faster.”
Movistar Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo’s miserable weekend continued although he did avoid the embarrassment of failing to qualify automatically for Q2. The Spaniard was seventh quickest and is clinging onto hope that he will be closer in qualifying.
“We had the same feeling today with little grip on the rear with the soft tyre. We tried to adapt to the situation and the positive thing is that we are closer to the faster riders with race pace, maybe three or four tenths instead of one second so let’s see if tomorrow we can improve a bit more.”