Rossi buzzing after strong Saturday

Having failed to impress at Mugello on Friday, Valentino Rossi was able to finish top of the timesheets in FP3 before claiming second place on the grid for Sunday's race.

The Italian thrilled his home fans at the Mugello circuit with a series of strong performances, despite nursing chest and stomach injuries from a recent motocross accident.

In qualifying, Rossi was 0.239s behind Vinales and 0.021s ahead of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso. 

"Until Tuesday I thought it was impossible to race here and I was very, very sad. But my condition got better and it is like a gift to be here, so I have to give the maximum to make a good race, also for the fans," said Rossi. 

"Yesterday I had a lot of pain, it was difficult to concentrate and I didn't feel good with the bike. I was very worried because for us it is important to understand if it was just in Le Mans that we understand the right way [to set-up the bike], and yesterday I was 14th. 

"But I was optimistic we had some cards to play and today I was always quite strong from the morning, also with the race tyres. 

"This afternoon I was also strong, but unfortunately I made a stupid mistake at the end of FP4 and I slid off. Fortunately it was no problem, also because it was with the second bike, so I didn't damage the best bike. 

"However, I lost a bit of feeling, so to make this second place in qualifying was good, even better than normal." 

Rossi doesn't think Sunday's race will be a straight shootout between him and his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Vinales, despite the two riders once again dominating the timesheets.

"I think the race will be very tough from every angle, because it looks like there are six other bikes with the same pace, so to start from the front row is very important," he said. 

"I don't have any pain when I ride, this is so important, but I need more time to recover [energy] so the race will be more hard than normal. But I hope to continue to improve, like I improved from yesterday to today." 

Rossi admits it's special racing in front of his Italian fans, and he'd love to reward them with another victory. He was unbeaten at Mugello from 2002-2008, but has finished no higher than third once.

"It is always a special emotion. I'm lucky because around the world I have a lot of fans, but here in Italy it is special," he said. 

"Mugello is also more special for the topography of the hills around the track – when you ride you can see the fans. We expect a lot of people tomorrow. For sure it is a great pleasure and an extra motivation to give maximum." 

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