Despite his new chassis, Valentino Rossi again battled chatter on his way to seventh in today’s qualifying session at Le Mans – but claims he’ll have no such problems in the race.

Rossi tested the new chassis for the first time on Friday, when he set the second fastest free practice time behind only Camel Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards, and was so impressed with its potential that he had both his bikes fitted with the new frame for Saturday.

The Italian was then a competitive fourth fastest in the wet morning session, but – with the amount of chatter increasing with grip – the use of super-sticky qualifying tyres in this afternoon’s dry one-hour session was always going to provide the toughest test.

Although Rossi was able to lead several times during the first half of the hour, when he made the switch to qualifying tyres chatter reappeared – limiting the Italian to seventh place after lapping 0.85secs from pole sitter Dani Pedrosa. However, chatter isn’t such a problem on race tyres and Rossi is in confident mood ahead of the fifth round of the championship.


“Today I am happy because we worked in the right way and found a good race setting for the bike,” said Vale. “When we used the very soft tyre at the end of the session we again found some vibration problems caused by the extra grip but it’s not such a problem on the race tyres. Anyway, looking at the qualifying results from the last few rounds the third row is an improvement and I think there is the possibility of a good result tomorrow.

“Myself and Colin have been at the top through all the practice on race tyres so we know we have a good pace compared to the other riders. To be honest I expected a better position this afternoon so I am a little disappointed but it is not a disaster,” declared the Doctor, who is currently 32-points behind championship leader Nicky Hayden. “Now we wait to see what the weather does tomorrow, hope for a dry race and then try to turn around our recent bad luck in the race.”

Team-mate Edwards, fastest on Friday, was again without the new chassis – he is scheduled to receive the update for the next grand prix – but also led the field during the early part of the session and still held third with seven-minutes to go. However, the Texan also struggled with qualifying tyre chatter, dropping him to ninth on the grid.

“The track was a little slippery today, I guess after the rain this morning, and I didn’t have the same level of grip on the front tyre. I wasn’t as comfortable but we did a good job on the race tyres and my pace is decent,” he said. “I think there’s only three of us lapping in the 1min 35s on race tyres so we’ve got every chance to do something in the race – it’s just a shame about the chatter on the qualifying tyres because we could have been much further forward on the grid.

“I did four or five laps trying to break the 1min 35 mark and eventually hit 1min 34.9 on the last one but there was no way to go any faster,” he revealed. “All things considered the third row isn’t bad – there are a few guys who will go backwards tomorrow and a few others who will be tough to get past but, as I said before, we have the pace. Now it’s a case of holding that throttle open longer than anyone else into turn one and seeing where we can get from there.” “Unfortunately we missed out a little on the qualifying tyres because we couldn’t use them properly but we’re not too worried,” insisted team director Davide Brivio. “On the whole the two days of practice have been very good for both riders and they both have good race pace. The only concern now is that they both have a good start in the race. We were able to set-up the new chassis for Valentino but also the older bike is working very well for Colin. Tomorrow is a good opportunity to get more information and confirm our direction with development but of course we also need points. Our aim for tomorrow is to close the gap between us and the championship leaders.”



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