Valentino Rossi is determined to make his Sunday afternoon easier this weekend by qualifying further up the grid for the United States Grand Prix. The Italian qualified a lowly 16th seven days ago at the Sachsenring and is yet to start on the front two rows of a race all season.

Rossi will race with the GP11.1 Ducati this weekend, the same specification he ran in last weekend and is still suffering with a lack of rear grip. Once that problem is solved, Rossi hopes he can move closer to the pacesetters.

“After yesterday's technical briefing with Jerry and the team, we decided to continue with the new bike, so I only used the GP11.1. We started with one bike that had the Sachsenring setup, which has a significant change to the weight distribution, while the second bike had a standard setup. I actually prefer the one from Germany. We need to keep working to balance the bike and to improve the rear grip, and then we hope to get a little closer to the pace of the others. We have to try to do better than we have at the last couple of races, and especially to start closer to the front. I'm pleased that Bridgestone brought some soft tyres, which worked well in the cool temperatures this morning, although I felt better with the hard when the conditions were warmer in the afternoon. If race conditions are like this, that's what I'll use.”

Rossi ended the day in 11th with teammate Nicky Hayden one place higher in tenth on a circuit he has won on twice. The American has been testing out the GP11, as well as the GP11.1, over the course of the weekend and has commented that both have their pros and cons. Hayden and the Ducati team will make a decision on which specification they will continue with before FP3 on Saturday evening.

“It's nice to be back at Laguna, a track I love, and things started off okay with the new bike. It was my first time with it, but it wasn't something I needed a lot of time to get familiar with since I've ridden the GP12, which is similar. We're just trying to evaluate it, and it definitely has some pluses. The gearbox is really nice, so Ducati has done a great job with that. We're always trying different things like shock springs and new settings, but it's not every day that you get to ride with a new gearbox that probably everybody will have in the future. We're just trying to decide which bike will give us the best chance for a good result on Sunday.”