Valentino Rossi might have ended the opening day of practice for the Jerez MotoGP clash just outside of the top three, but the Italian fears he lacks the speed over race distance to fight Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa for victory in Sunday’s 27-lap race.
The nine-times world champion set a best time of 1.39.874 to finish 0.312s behind factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who topped the timesheets with a best pace of 1.39.562.
Rossi was only 0.141s behind British rider Cal Crutchlow, who once again easily finished the top non-factory rider with a quickest lap of 1.39.733 set in bright and sunny conditions this afternoon.
But Rossi, who finished second on his factory YZR-M1 return in Qatar last month, said: “Today was quite good but unfortunately I finished fourth but not so far from the top. It looks like there are five riders a bit faster than the second group.
It will be important in qualifying to start in the top five for the race. We have still not found the right balance of the bike, especially in the afternoon with the higher temperature. We have some problem with the front pushing and the rear slides a bit too much in acceleration. We have to try some different setting.
In all the sections this afternoon I am in the top five so there is no particular point where I lose too much time. I'm more worried about the rhythm. I wasn't very confident about the hard rear tyre. It doesn't have enough grip on the very edge and I am quite worried if I have to race with the soft because with this temperature it is difficult to make 27 laps.”
Rossi came close to topping the timesheets in the recent final winter test in Jerez in late March but conditions were significantly hotter today and he said the higher temperatures played more into the hands of Honda.
The 34-year-old added: “Maybe in the test the Yamaha had some advantage in the colder conditions. For Sunday Dani and Jorge are the riders with more chance to win. But with this higher temperature we don't have the right balance yet.”