Valentino Rossi ended the opening day of the 2019 MotoGP season opener at Qatar outside the automatic Q2 positions after struggling with front tyre problems.
Rossi’s day had started on a positive note, with the Italian topping Free Practice 1 ahead of the Repsol Honda duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez. The 40-year-old’s time of 1:55.048s was +0.079s quicker than former teammate, Lorenzo.
The second practice session of the day was held in the evening, under the floodlights, and the lap-times began to tumble in the cooler temperatures.
Rossi would make no major setup changes between the two sessions, but problems with the front tyre meant that the nine-time champion would end Free Practice 2 in seventeenth.
Speaking about the problem, Rossi explained:
“It was a strange day because, maybe we aren’t as good this afternoon, but for sure we are not as bad as this evening. This evening, sincerely, we didn’t modify the bike very much, but I had a lot of problems with the front tyres because we got out of balance and I suffered very much. I was slow.
“At the end, the track had a lot of grip, so a lot of the top guys improved, and the best lap-time is a new record, so they were very fast, but unfortunately it was a difficult practice for me. The big problem is that I’m out of Q2 at the moment. Tomorrow in FP3 maybe the conditions will make it hard to improve my best lap-time, so it will be difficult to enter directly into Q2. We have to find a way to be faster.”
Free Practice 3 for the opening round of the year is scheduled to begin at 12:15pm tomorrow afternoon, followed by Free Practice 4 at 16:20, Q1 at 17:00 and the all-important Q2 shootout at 17:25.