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A second front row start for Valentino Rossi in as many races as he edges in on Marc Marquez.
It was a tactical start to the Q2 session for Valentino Rossi, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider holding back initially to secure himself some clear track. Once on track he was immediately up to speed, quickly setting a 2’04.355 to move into a provisional third. As is always the case, the pace continued to improve and Rossi returned to the circuit to set a 2’03.664 on his final run and secure himself third on the grid. For the second time in two races, Rossi starts on the front row. This is the first time since the Malaysian and Australian GPs in 2013 that ‘The Doctor’ has had back-to-back front row starts and just his 14th since returning to Yamaha in 2013. The weekend has seen him continually close the gap to Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), ending Q2 0.456s back on the Honda rider.
Two options with the front and rear tyres remain open for Rossi in the race, finding the right tyre and bike balance will be important for the closing laps of the race. The Circuit of the Americas has seen Yamaha riders struggle with tyre life in the past. Aside from tyres, Rossi has also been experimenting with the fuel tank moved back in the rear of the machine, as seen during testing, although he felt he didn’t have enough time during the weekend to evaluate it fully. Saturday in Texas also saw Rossi use winglets during Q2, one of the first times the Italian has employed winglets for more than just simple tests.
Valentino Rossi: “This result is crucial for the race tomorrow and it‘s also a good result for the work that we‘ve done today, from this morning we‘ve improved the bike a lot and this afternoon in the free practice with the race tyre I was quite strong. I started qualifying quite confident and I did some good laps. The front row is always a very good target especially when I have to fight with Marquez and Lorenzo when they are quite strong,”