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Franco Morbidelli to Start Second Race of the Year from Fourth Row

Franco Morbidelli to Start Second Race of the Year from Fourth Row

PETRONAS Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi tenth and 21st in DohaGP qualifying.

Franco Morbidelli will be lining up on the fourth row of the grid at Losail International Circuit, after ending today’s qualifying session in tenth. It was a difficult day for fellow PETRONAS Yamaha SRT team-mate Valentino Rossi, who will start the Grand Prix of Doha from 21st on the grid.

FP3 proved to be an inconsequential session for Morbidelli, with the wind and dust preventing any improvements. Franco ended FP3 sixth with a 1min 56.660secs lap, but his time from FP2 saw him head directly to Q2. In FP4 the Italian demonstrated a strong race pace, ending the final session in fifth. Franco also started the qualifying session with a good lap – 1min 53.794secs – that placed him on the front row. Unfortunately he was unable to improve upon this time and will line up on the fourth row of the grid tomorrow in tenth. 

Rossi knew it would be a near impossible task to make it into Q2, after ending FP2 outside of the top-ten places. Despite the conditions he had a positive FP3 session, posting a 1min 56.718secs lap and claiming ninth. Unfortunately the Italian was plagued by rear grip issues in qualifying, which hampered his efforts to make it through to Q2. Valentino will be starting tomorrow’s MotoGP race from 21st on the grid, after setting a 1min 54.881secs lap.

Tomorrow’s track action will commence with Warm Up at 3.40pm local time (8.40pm MYT) for Morbidelli and Rossi, before the DohaGP culminates in the 22-lap MotoGP race at 8pm local time (1am MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

"The feeling has changed quite a lot between one round to the next here and even from one practice to another, but we haven’t made that many changes to the bike. We don’t fully understand what’s going on but we will try to have a good race. In FP4 it looked like we had a decent pace as we were hanging in there in fifth, so if the feeling is similar to that in the race tomorrow then we can try to fight for a good position. It’s really difficult to predict what will happen because as I said, every session the feeling is different, but of course we will give everything we can."

Valentino Rossi

"It was very difficult today because we struggled a lot with the rear tyre. Compared to last week we tried to modify the setting and also some of the electronics, but I lost some performance in qualifying and I was not fast enough. We also haven’t been able to improve and we are putting too much stress on the rear tyre. Our goal was to be more consistent with our pace ahead of the race, but we have the same problems after completing several laps. We have another chance in the Warm Up tomorrow to try something, but we know it will be difficult starting the race from behind. We will try to make some changes and see what happens."