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Morbidelli to Start PortugueseGP From the Second Row

Morbidelli to Start PortugueseGP From the Second Row

Franco Morbidelli to start Portimão MotoGP race from fifth, with Valentino Rossi 17th.

It will be a second row start to the PortugueseGP for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli, who will line up on the Portimão grid fifth. Whilst team-mate Valentino Rossi will be starting the third MotoGP race of the year from 17th. 

Morbidelli had a strong start to FP3, posting a time inside of the top-three, before the red flag brought things to a stop with just over four minutes left on the clock. Once the session restarted Franco was able to set a 1min 39.095secs lap, which placed him second and saw him through to Q2. After a good race pace in FP4, the Italian also started qualifying with a good lap, posting the second fastest lap after his initial run. He then went on to improve the time on his final time attack to 1min 39.103secs, which saw him end Q2 in fifth and secure a second row start in tomorrow’s race.

Team-mate Rossi also had a good start to the morning’s Free Practice session, sitting inside the top-ten for the opening laps. The Italian had his work cut out to make it into Q2, after finding himself in 17th at the red flag. He was able to improve to 14th on the restart – 1min 39.912secs – but yellow flags scuppered his final attempt. Valentino also started Q1 strongly with a 1min 39.943secs lap, which placed him third. Unfortunately he was unable to improve upon this time and ended the session seventh, which converts to 17th on tomorrow’s grid.

Tomorrow’s track action for Morbidelli and Rossi will begin with Warm Up at 9.30am local time (4.30pm MYT), before the lights go out for the 25-lap MotoGP race at 1pm local time (8pm MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

"I am happy with fifth today. I felt like we were a little bit stronger with the race pace, than over a single lap, but the feeling is so much better than in Qatar. We need to see what will happen tomorrow though. I’m certain there will be a big group of riders all doing a similar pace, so it’s going to be interesting. I feel like I have the pace to fight for a podium here, but if there is that big group then it could be very difficult to get into the top-three. Although P5 tomorrow is good, it's still not an ideal situation to show our true pace. We will see where we are after the first laps though and what we can do from there."

Valentino Rossi

"We have worked hard and made improvements from yesterday, especially under braking as we were suffering during those moments in Friday’s Free Practice sessions. In the afternoon I was able to ride better and my pace was consistent, but I am still missing some speed. There are still improvements to be made there and we know that it will be hard to make progress through the pack tomorrow. The start will be difficult as we are a bit too far from the top guys and ideally we need a better pace to be able to fight with them."