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Valentino Rossi believes he can win his first race in four years at Brno despite a troubled qualifying session that will see him start the Czech Grand Prix from the third row.
Rossi and his factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo were overshadowed by British rider Cal Crutchlow who took pole position on the satellite team Tech3 Yamaha.
But Rossi says he is unfazed by braking issues that slowed him to seventh on the grid and he is openly confident that his reputation as a ruthless racer will work in his favour at Brno.
Rossi last won the MotoGP race at Brno in 2009 on a Yamaha.
“This race is open for me because the Brno has a lot of places to overtake and I feel good with my race pace,” said Rossi who is chasing his second win of the season following his DutchTT victory.
Following Friday’s opening pair of practice sessions, Cal Crutchlow had been unhappy with the new fuel tank fitted to his bike, but appeared to rectify this by setting the pace in third free practice on Saturday morning. He would go on to claim his second MotoGP pole in five race weekends, following that of Assen at the end of June.
However, a second career pole looked to be heading the way of Alvaro Bautista after the Gresini rider intelligently picked up Marc Marquez’s slipstream to dip underneath Jorge Lorenzo’s 2012 qualifying record. Following a stop in the pit lane, Crutchlow would go on to beat this by over two tenths of a second thanks to his rapid time of 1’55.527.
With Bautista on the front row for the second time in three races, championship leader – and winner of the last three Grands Prix – Marquez crucially starts ahead of his closest two title contenders, with teammate and last year’s Brno winner Dani Pedrosa only five thousandths of a second in arrears and Lorenzo a further 81 thousandths behind. The reigning World Champion expected more, though, not least after testing at Brno in the mid-season break as well as beginning the weekend as fastest rider.