Valentino Rossi’s Ducati troubles deepened tonight in Qatar when the Italian finished in a lowly 12th place in qualifying for tomorrow night’s opening MotoGP round at the Losail International Circuit.
The nine-times world champion cut a dejected figure in the shadow of the Losail Circuit floodlights after a best lap of 1.56.813 left him slowest of the factory prototype riders in Doha.
Rossi struggled once again with a chronic understeer issue and lack of grip in acceleration with the new Ducati GP12 and his time was a massive 2.179s behind fastest rider Jorge Lorenzo.
Rossi was over a second slower than team-mate Nicky Hayden in fifth and the 33-year-old was less than a second faster than the Suter-BMW CRT machine ridden by experienced American Colin Edwards.
Reflecting on a humbling night, Rossi told MCN: “It was a difficult session and I had some problems to ride the bike, so I couldn’t do the same performance of yesterday, even if that was nothing fantastic.
"We made a small modify to the bike and it gives a bad, bad feeling. Everyone in MotoGP is very fast so it’s very easy to be in the back. It is a pity because after yesterday we expect better, maybe start from the second row where Nicky is.
"But it is very strange because we make some small modifications and the feeling is a lot different and a lot worse. After we came back to yesterday’s setting and I go a little bit faster but no way to make a better result.
"I lose a lot in acceleration when I open the throttle, but especially it is very difficult to turn the bike and to enter in corner. It is all the normal problems but we have bigger.
"Nicky made a good practice and did some different modifications and went faster, so we will check the data and modify something and maybe follow him.”