MotoGP: Rossi worried resurgent Honda will hurt him in championship
Valentino Rossi is worried that his resurgent Honda rival Dani Pedrosa will cost him valuable championship points in Sunday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix.
The Honda dominance at the Brickyard combined with Rossi’s admitted weakness at the venue could devour a slice of Rossi’s championship points lead.
The prospect of a Honda 1-2 by Marc Marquez and Pedrosa looms large for the 10th round of the MotoGP World Championship.
The worry for Rossi is that Pedrosa is not a title contender, having missed three races for arm pump surgery. And with Rossi starting on the third row with only the eighth-fastest time in qualifying, he knows that Pedrosa can be a spoiler in the points.
"For me to start on the third row is always difficult," Rossi said.
"But mainly the problems for (Sunday), and I’m a little bit worried, is especially that Pedrosa is very strong. He’s a little bit stronger than me.
"So to stay with Jorge, Marc and Dani I have to make another step for the race."
Rossi’s Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, qualified third and completes the front row alongside the star Honda pair.
The prospect of finishing fourth at Indy rightly raises concerns with Rossi. He would concede 12 points to Marquez if the Spaniard wins for the third consecutive year at the Brickyard.
And if Lorenzo is ahead, then Rossi also gives up points to the rider he most fears on an identical Yamaha M1.
"Yes, it’s possible," Rossi admitted on the points scenario.
"But I already know that Indy is a difficult track for us. So we need to improve and try to make the best of it.
"I wasn’t fast enough to start on the second row which is important, my pace is good but not fantastic.
"So it will be difficult. I need to find the setting and balance of the bike in section two and then do a good race."
Both Marquez and Pedrosa have ruled out the prospect of Honda team orders with Pedrosa declaring that he wants "to try and win" and that both riders are free to race.
Rossi leads the championship with 179 points, just 13 ahead of Lorenzo who remains his toughest title challenger.
Marquez, meanwhile, has the massive, near-impossible task, of winning the title from 65 points behind Rossi. Pedrosa is 112 points behind and out of contention.
The positive for Rossi is that he does not expect to be as uncompetitive at coming tracks, such as Brno and Misano, even though Indy could be a tough day for points.