Valentino Rossi may have only qualified his factory Ducati GP12 in ninth place for tomorrow’s Catalunya MotoGP race, but the Italian declared himself happy with set-up improvements made after a tough first day.
The 33-year-old set a best time of 1.42.175 to finish 0.880s behind reigning world champion Casey Stoner in pole position, but he was happier with the front and rear set-up of his Desmosedici today.
Rossi had bemoaned a lack of rear grip during a difficult start to the Catalunya weekend yesterday when he finished only 12th quickest.
Modifications to the balance of his GP12 gave him more front-end feeling though he admitted that rear traction was still a problem in searing heat that saw temperatures peak at a punishing 31 degrees.
Rossi told MCN: “Today was better than yesterday. We improved the setting, especially on the front and now I can brake hard on corner entry with good speed. We made a movement in the bike that gave a little better traction and did not upset the front with better corner entry on the limit. Traction remains an issue but also the other guys are in big trouble with traction, but now this is our potential."
Rossi said his maximum potential today was seventh and he conceded that his race pace was nothing to write home about.
He added: “I'm am ninth and our target was the third row. I could have done a 41.9 and started seventh instead of ninth but nothing more. I have quite good rhythm on race tyres, not fantastic, but consistent so I am more or less in the condition of Portugal. We have wait for the race conditions. If wet it is better for us but even if there is some cloud it is better for us."
Rossi claimed his best ever Ducati result at the last race in Le Mans with a brilliant third in wet conditions.