Valentino Rossi is hoping a new Ducati GP12 chassis and swingarm will help him claim only a fourth top six finish of the season in front of his home crowd at Misano tomorrow.
The Italian, who will return to Yamaha in 2013, qualified in sixth place this afternoon after posting a best time of 1.34.619 in the first full dry session of a rain-hit weekend.
The 33-year-old had tested the new frame and swingarm at Misano recently and Rossi said he had more front and rear stability on corner entry.
He told MCN: “Firstly we can modify more the position of the front so the feeling and the stability of the front is better. Secondly we have worked to improve the rear stability on corner entry where we always suffer. It looks like we have improved this also. But I'm sure in the race the other guys will do a step and they will go faster, so we have to do the same to stay with them. The performance today was positive because I was not very far from the guys at the front and the position is very important tomorrow for the race. The gap from pole is just 0.7s, which is quite good.”
Rossi said a crucial test in tomorrow’s 28-lap race will be to understand if the new chassis and swingarm prolongs tyre life.
A frequent complaint of the nine-times world champion has been the Desmosedici’s struggle to maintain good grip in the second half of races and Rossi has often faded in the closing laps.
He added: “At Brno I was OK in the first part of the race but then I had problems at the rear with the tyre sliding too much, so it will be important to understand in the race if we can stay on the pace until the end of the race. There are a lot of riders very close on pace. Crutchlow, Bradl and Bautista and Spies are close so it will be a good battle. Understanding my pace in the second part of the race will be important."