Rossi labels front row spot 'big surprise'
23 September 2017 – Valentino Rossi labelled his front-row grid spot for the Aragón Grand Prix as a "big surprise" after making an earlier-than-anticipated return from a broken leg.
Rossi sustained fractures to his right leg when he fell in a training accident on August 31, and was ruled out of his home race at Misano the following weekend.
He was also set to miss Aragón, with Michael van der Mark named as his replacement, but turned laps on a road bike last Monday and Tuesday at Misano as he evaluated making an early comeback.
Rossi travelled to MotorLand Aragón and was passed fit by the medical team, before successfully completing Friday's pair of practice sessions, which took place in damp conditions.
The Italian snuck into the top 10 during Saturday's dry third practice session, securing an automatic spot in Q2, and vaulted up the order to briefly hold pole position.
He was shuffled down to third by Yamaha team-mate Maverick Viñales and Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo, but Rossi will nonetheless start Sunday's race from the front row of the grid.
"It's a big surprise for me, because from one week ago I started to think I can race," Rossi explained to BT Sport after qualifying.
"But I don't know what I expected, because when I arrived at Misano, it was not so bad but [there was] quite a lot of pain.
"I'm lucky, as the leg improves every day very much, sincerely I feel comfortable on the M1, and feel better day-by-day.
"I can ride with a bit of pain [and] I can concentrate; we worked well as a team, it was a good strategy, and I did a good lap, so already it's good.
"Now we have to understand tomorrow, the pace, and make the right tyre choice and we'll see."
Rossi holds fourth place in the standings, 42 points behind leader Marc Márquez.