Valentino Rossi was “pretty satisfied” with seventh on the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix although he refused to get too excited with the performance. The Ducati star had an exciting battle with Marco Simoncelli for the final place on the second row with the Gresini rider prevailing in the dying seconds.
After a change to the weight distribution on his GP11.1, Rossi felt much more comfortable on board the motorcycle but warns there is plenty of work still to do before they get to where they want to be.
“We're pretty satisfied, although we can't celebrate seventh place. Still, I was able to ride the bike a bit better. We improved the setting again this morning, and I was faster in the afternoon. We've changed the weight distribution for Motegi, and now I can ride more naturally, though still not as I would like. Our goal was to manage to lap at 1:46.5, and as we were able to do that, I'd say we worked well. Also, our pace with the hard tyre isn't bad. We're not far from Spies and Simoncelli. We hope to get a good start, and then we'll see. Let's hope it doesn't rain, as I'd like a dry race.”
Teammate Nicky Hayden felt contrasting emotions after qualifying down in tenth on the sister bike. Hayden was threatening the factory Honda and Yamaha machines in Friday practice and was disappointed to have made relatively small progress on Saturday.
“We weren't able to continue from the good start we had yesterday, even though our times aren't too far from the second group. With the cooler track, I didn't have the same grip, and I was spinning quite a lot on the edge of the tyre. This afternoon, we also picked up some chatter that I hadn't experienced all weekend, which made it really difficult to go fast. We improved compared to yesterday, but not as much as we should have. We haven't made a lot of changes to the bike, as we tried to keep it pretty simple and just chip away. We can't be happy with tenth, and it's going to be tough tomorrow, but hopefully we can get a good start and have a decent race.”