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Qatar MotoGP: Valentino Rossi waiting for Ducati upgrades

Published: 20 March 2011

Valentino Rossi said he was looking forward to the introduction of new parts from Ducati after he could only qualify in ninth position for his GP11 debut in Qatar tomorrow night.

Rossi finished one place behind British rookie Cal Crutchlow to finish with a best time of 1.55.637.

That put him on the third row of the grid but more worryingly he was a massive 1.500s behind Aussie Casey Stoner.

The nine-times world champion once again admitted he was struggling again with his on-going right shoulder injury. He said a lack of strength was costing him half-a-second a lap.

But Rossi also said he needed some help from his Ducati GP11 and is eagerly awaiting upgrades that he’s expected to assess at the post race test in Estoril, Portugal on May 2.

The 32-year-old said: “We have two or three important and interesting ideas to improve the bike and in Ducati they have already started to work for the break after the next two races. Some new stuff will arrive and I think we can improve three or four tenths with the gearbox.”

Rossi was making reference to the new gearbox on the Honda RC212V, which has dramatically improved upshifts.

Rossi added: “If we can have the same gearbox we can improve but I don’t know if it is possible during this year.”

Rossi said he fitness was the biggest question mark ahead of tomorrow night’s 22-lap season opener and he said: “The position is not fantastic and the gap is big compared to the Honda and this is not great.

"We improve our setting and I ride the bike in a better way and but I lose 0.5s a lap with the shoulder, so if I’m fit we can try and fight for the second group. We have to wait for tomorrow because at the end with the soft tyres I can’t push at 100 per cent because I don’t have enough power and I lose a lot in two or three corner.

"This is the main worry for tomorrow. We improve the setting and the lap time is not so bad. It is the same lap time of Stoner from last year but the problem is the improvement of the other guys.”

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