Marquez has won the opening six races of the season, and now faces massive pressure to deliver a seventh consecutive win in his home race in Barcelona. Yet, for this first time this season, Marquez made a mistake and crashed in qualifying, and will start third from the outside of the front row on Sunday.
Marquez had qualified pole for the previous six races.
On pole in Barcelona is his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, his first of the season, with Lorenzo squeezed between the Honda pair as second fastest qualifier.
But it is Lorenzo’s race pace in practice that leads Rossi to suggest that his teammate has a good chance in the race.
“After six victories in a row it is difficult not to say Marc will win,” Rossi said.
“But at this point I see Jorge very riding well, his pace is very fast and he can make a very good race.
“The three Spanish guys in front are very strong, and the two Hondas, Marc and Dani, are very fast but also Jorge is riding very well.
“In the race, it will be very hard for me to stay with the top three guys who are in their home Grand Prix and in great shape.
“The Spanish riders all want to be on the podium tomorrow so I have to do better.”
Rossi qualified fifth, 0.3s slower than Pedrosa, as he struggled with front-end turning issues in the final sector of the circuit.
“I am in trouble in the final two corners and also a little in turn 8,” Rossi said.
“The feeling with the front is not fantastic, I have a lot of movement when I enter and I am not able to turn and make the right line.”
Lorenzo has won the Catalunya GP for the past years and now appears close to his best form, having pushed Marquez to the limit in a tense contest at last week’s race in Mugello.
Crucially this season, Marquez has been at his breathtaking best by finding something extra in last lap battles against both Rossi (in Qatar) and Lorenzo (Mugello).
“In Qatar, what made the difference was that MM wanted the victory a little more than me,” said Rossi. “I was already happy to be there because in practice I was tenth. For this reason MM was more ready to win in Qatar and he beat me.
“It looks like Marc has small margin to use just in the last lap so it is hard to better him,” Rossi said.
“In Qatar what made the difference is that Marc wanted the victory a little more than me. I was tenth in practice and was just happy to be up front.”
Lorenzo feels that recent improvements in braking performance for the Yamaha M1, a weakness compared to Honda, gives him a chance.
“Marc is a very hard braker so it is difficult to fight with him, but also if I feel good I can be a hard in braking and the M1 has improved a lot in this area,” Lorenzo said.
“So I think I can have more chance in case of fight late in the race.”
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