Valentino Rossi will start his bid to end his Yamaha career in style with a victory in Valencia tomorrow from fourth on the grid.
A problematic weekend for the Italian continued until the dying moments of this afternoon’s qualifying session when he surged from 11th to fourth in his final two fast laps.
The 31-year-old, who will join Ducati after tomorrow’s final race, ended with a best time of 1.32.330. But he said his performance in the 30-lap clash will be dictated by how well he solves rear grip issues that have plagued him all weekend.
The Fiat Yamaha rider, who finished 0.531s behind Casey Stoner in pole position, said: “It was a difficult practice because this morning and this afternoon we tried a lot of different things without fixing the problem. We played the last card at the end and I improved my time a lot and I made a good job because I did the perfect lap for my potential.
"I put all the best splits together without making any mistakes and I am happy about fourth because it means nothing is lost for tomorrow and especially because we always fight between eighth and tenth. It was a good last lap but we have to improve and to try and have a good setting to do 30 fast laps and after we have to decide which rear tyre we are able to use.
"The problem is grip on the rear, so when I open the throttle I always have a big slide and at the end we modify the balance of the bike and try to increase the weight on the tyre and it worked. It works and I was not so bad in the last laps but all is open. We need to make another step for tomorrow.
"Last year I could always use the hard tyre and the best races were with the hard tyre. But this year we can never use it and we don’t understand why.”