Valentino Rossi reckons Ducati is still nowhere near challenging for MotoGP victories in 2011 as he prepares for this weekend’s Indianapolis round in America.
Rossi has no new updates for his Desmosedici GP11.1 this weekend, though he does have both bikes fitted with a revised front-end that he rode to sixth place in Brno earlier this month.
Alterations to the way the front axle is fixed and changes to the steering head boosted Rossi’s confidence with braking and corner entry.
But the 32-year-old said Ducati still needed to make further improvements to haul him into victory contention with the likes of Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo.
The nine-times world champion said: “We need a big step to try and fight for the victory, especially with Jorge and Casey, who are the fastest and also with Dani. Ducati are working and now is an important period because we need to have a clear idea of next year for the Valencia test in November, so we don't have a lot of time.
"The bike of Valencia will not be the same bike of Qatar next year but we need to understand the way forward. What I see from the track is our engine is not so bad. Unfortunately we have lost the advantage that Ducati had in the last years but the engine is not slower.
"In our situation that is quite bad because we are Ducati and not as big as Honda and Yamaha, so we have to concentrate in the areas that will give more disadvantage at the end of the lap, and with us it is not the engine. So we have to fix the bigger problem and once we do that we can try to improve the engine.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s race at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Rossi said the target was to try and fight as close to the second group as possible.
He told MCN: “Our target is again to try and stay close to the other top guys and not arrive too far behind. Here with this temperature it is very difficult and last year it was one of most difficult races of my career about my strength in these conditions. I'll have to see what our pace is during the weekend.
"I will have the same stuff as the Brno race. At the Monday test we tried something different but that is for the future. It is difficult place here and I don't like this track very much, it is not one of my favourites.
"In the past the big problem was the bumps, the asphalt was very damaged, but now it looks a lot better with all the work and the track is brand new. If they made a good job then without the bumps the track is not so bad.”