A new chassis failed to move Valentino Rossi closer to the top of the timesheets in Le Mans today as the factory Ducati rider ended the opening day of practice in a disappointing ninth position.
Using a modified carbon fibre chassis that he successfully tested in Estoril recently, the 32-year-old was hoping the modifications would ease some of the understeer issues and vague feeling from the front end of his GP11 machine.
But an understeer issue again hampered Rossi today and his bid to make significant improvements was compromised by a rear movement issue under hard acceleration.
The nine-times world champion ended with a best time of 1.34.966 and that was over a second slower than Casey Stoner’s Repsol Honda.
Rossi said: "For sure the result is not positive for us. First we are a little bit unlucky. We needed five more minutes of the session because we did a modification on the rear shock that gave me better feeling and less movement but I could only do two laps. I was competitive but then came the chequered flag."
"If I have another one or two laps then I could improve my lap time and also my position. Anyway we are still too far because we struggle very much in acceleration. The bike is too nervous and moves very much because we made a mistake in the setting of the rear. And we can improve our electronic systems. We have to try to fix the problem in acceleration because I lose a lot. With the new chassis and the front, we expected a better improvement and having some more chance to modify the front part of the bike but we are still too far and I continue to have some problems with the front."
"We still don’t understand the key to go faster. I lose a lot in the chicane and in section one and three I lose more. In fact I am very slow. The hard acceleration we have some problems that we don't expect with the movement, so we hope to fix the problem. The problem is that I don't have a very good feeling in the entry and I have some understeer, so it means that I enter the corner like an old lady with the supermarket bags going home. I'm very slow in that area."