Valentino Rossi took encouragement from one of his best days of the 2012 MotoGP campaign today after he finished the opening day of practice in Brno in sixth place.
After disastrous appearances in Laguna Seca and Indianapolis, the 33-year-old was only 0.457s behind Dani Pedrosa’s best pace today in the Czech Republic.
And Rossi, who will re-join Yamaha next season after deciding to quit Ducati, was only 0.1s behind British rider Cal Crutchlow in fourth.
Rarely in a tough second season with Ducati has Rossi been so close to the front-running pace in dry conditions and he said: “Today was a better day and we have tried some different settings and especially I am happy because the distance to the top guy is less than half a second. It is important for us because the last two races in America were very difficult, so it was important to go faster. At Brno last year I was not so bad in the dry. It was one of my best races so we confirm that the Ducati is fast in Brno and that I can push and be not very far from the front. Tomorrow we have some other stuff to try but for sure the other top guys will go faster and I will try to qualify better than the last two races."
Rossi denied that his sudden improvement had anything to do with his mind being cleared after taking his decision to leave Ducati and sign a two-year deal to return to Yamaha in 2013 and ’14.
He added: “In Laguna and especially in Indy it was very difficult to ride the bike. We never found the right setting and I had a lot of problems in the left turns and both tracks have a lot of left hand turns making it difficult. For me riding is the same this week as last week. It is just that here I can ride in a better way."