Valentino Rossi is confident he can improve his pace on the newly resurfaced Indianapolis Motor Speedway after he finished yesterday’s opening practice sessions in a lowly 11th position.
The Italian set a best time of 1.42.405 to finish 1.681s behind Repsol Honda rival Casey Stoner and he was outpaced by factory Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden.
The American was eighth fastest overall with a best time of 1.41.789 and Rossi said he needed to improve the set-up of his GP11.1 machine to move further up the rankings in today’s qualifying session.
The nine-times world champion said: “In the afternoon we made a mistake with the setting and we had to wait for the condition of the track to come better. But Nicky is not so bad so it looks like that our two bikes made a step and for Saturday I will try a more normal setting.
"The load on the front-end is the problem. I don't have grip on braking and corner entry and I am very slow.”
Rossi said he was happy that grip levels drastically improved in the second session after several riders criticised the new tarmac on the infield.
Although most of the circuit’s notorious bumps had been removed, the track was lacking grip in the morning session and former factory Yamaha rider Rossi said: “I'm very happy about the work on the track although in the morning I was worried. The problem is that no one uses the track and it was very dirty, like riding in the wet.
"But in the afternoon the step was massive and you could have some normal grip. This is a sign the asphalt is fine and it is just the dirt, so it should be even better on Sunday. They made a good job for the bumps."
The surface though was still incredibly slick off the racing line and Rossi said: “If you get off line you are in the s**t, it is like rain.”