Valentino Rossi was surprisingly off the pace in wet conditions at the Motorland Aragon track in Spain today after he finished a rain-hit opening day of practice in eighth place.
Rossi and Ducati’s finicky Desmosedici GP12 usually excel in rain conditions and it was in a wet French Grand Prix at Le Mans earlier this season that Rossi took a brilliant second place finish behind Jorge Lorenzo.
But the 33-year-old could only post a best lap of 2.02.412 at a rain-soaked Motorland Aragon, which left the nine-times world champion 2.193s off the pace.
There were mitigating circumstances for Rossi not being as competitive in the rain as has previously been, most notably a gearbox issue with his number one bike.
Continuing to use a new chassis that helped him score second at his home race in Misano earlier this month, Rossi told MCN: “We had a problem in the afternoon session with the gearbox, so I had to stop and prepare the second bike for the wet.
"It was a small mechanical problem. It jumped out of gear and was stuck in neutral but the guys check and it is not a problem for the engine, so they are able to replace some parts and it was a small problem."
Rossi believes he would have been faster had he not come across a slower CRT bike on his final flying lap and he is confident that with more rain forecast tomorrow that he can be higher up the order in final practice and qualifying.
He added: “On my final lap I lost some time with a CRT bike, so I think we can be faster and closer to the top guys in the rain. Also to make a good lap time you need to stay out for six of seven laps for the tyre to heat up and give better grip.
"If tomorrow is the same condition I think I can be faster and start in a better position. The forecast is for wet conditions, so we have to make the maximum and wait for the forecast for Sunday."