Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi is desperate for victory in the British Grand Prix before heading to his three least favourite circuits on the MotoGP calendar.
The 26-year-old Italian considers Donington Park his home from home after being beaten only once at the two and a half mile circuit since joining motorcycling’s blue riband class in 2000.
Bitter rival Max Biaggi was awarded victory in 2003 after Rossi was adjudged to have illegally overtaken under a yellow flag.
Rossi is also chasing a fifth successive world title in the elite class and heads into tomorrow afternoon’s showpiece race leading the overall ranking by 79 points after amassing 186 to date.
The British Grand Prix is the ninth of the year and marks the halfway point of the season but Rossi is already bracing himself for the forthcoming German, Czech Republic and Japanese grands prix.
Nevertheless, he maintained enough composure during qualifying practice at Donington this afternoon to claim pole position for tomorrow’s race.
“I love racing at Donington and everybody knows that. But I don’t like Sachsenring, I don’t like Brno and I don’t like Motegi,” said Rossi.
“The bike I’m riding this weekend at Donington has been completely re-designed from the M1 machine of the 2004 season.
“At the beginning of this year we had a lot of problems with the rear of the bike and as soon as we fixed that, we discovered we’d picked up a new problem at the front of the bike.
“Fixing that second problem, by getting more weight at the front, has been the biggest single improvement we’ve made so far this season and we really understand the setting on the bike now.
“I would say that so far I’m enjoying my best-ever season in MotoGP, certainly as good as when I won the 2001 500cc title riding for Honda.
“For sure, we’ve had a good start to the season but we must make sure we do well in the second half of the year too.”
The Gauloises Yamaha rider set a fastest-lap time of one minute and 27.897 seconds during qualifying practice this afternoon to shatter his own fastest lap record of 2004 by 0.823secs.
Movistar Honda rider Sete Gibernau qualified second on the grid after lapping 0.285 slower than Rossi while Marco Melandri was third quickest to complete the front row of the grid.
Shane Byrne was home in 18th on the Team Roberts Proton KR.