(Reuters) - Italian Valentino Rossi won his first pole position for over four years in qualifying for the final MotoGP grand prix of the season in Valencia on Saturday while newly-crowned world champion Marc Marquez is on the second row of the grid.
Rossi maintained his recent good form with the fastest lap of one minute 30.843 seconds, ahead of fellow Italian Andrea Iannone on his Ducati and Honda rider Dani Pedrosa behind him.
Rossi has not had a pole position since Le Mans in 2010.
“We were still in black and white I think (when he was last on pole),” Rossi joked with reporters.
“On the last lap I felt that I could improve and then to look up at the screen and see I was on pole was fantastic.”
Pedrosa is looking to rebound after failing to finish the last two grands prix, which has seen him fall down to fourth place in the rider’s championship.
“There was a good pace and the wind played a big part as it made it more difficult for us,” Pedrosa told reporters.
“It got more windy as the sessions went on and it is not easy to deal with on the bike. I did a strong lap where I could improve a bit but third place is still not the best.”
Marquez, who is aiming to break the record of 12 wins in a season he shares with Australian great Mick Doohan, was looking strong but crashed in his final lap and is fifth on the grid.
The battle is on for second place in the riders’ championship with Rossi on 275 points and his Yamaha team mate Jorge Lorenzo 12 points behind.
Reporting by Tim Hanlon in Barcelona; editing by Toby Davis