After sitting second to Casey Stoner during Monday's first night of real track action at the Qatar test, MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi 'suffered' on Tuesday - dropping to third position with a best lap time 1.228sec behind Stoner.
“In the early part of the evening we were fast enough but later on, when it became much colder and the grip went down, we suffered quite a bit,” admitted Rossi, who had been 0.6sec behind Stoner on Monday. “I started a long run but in fact I was getting slower and slower, so we didn't finish and concentrated on trying some different things with the setting instead.”
Nevertheless, Rossi - who lost second position at the test to Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo - insists that he is 'not too worried' since warmer conditions during the season-opening race weekend, on April 10-12, should help his cause.
But the Italian also confessed that Qatar isn't his, or the M1's, best track and that his main aim at the grand prix will be to improve on fifth position in last year's inaugural night event, which marked his first race on Bridgestone tyres.
“Our position is not so bad; we're third, close to Lorenzo,” said Rossi, who had been just 0.094sec slower than Stoner at last month's Sepang test. “Stoner is very fast but I am not too worried because we have a good idea about our path for the race and I think that in one month, when it is hopefully a few degrees warmer, we will be okay.
“This is not a great track for me or for the bike and the target for the race will be to be to be better than last year!” added the 30-year-old. “Next we go to Jerez for the final test and I am expecting to be strong there.”
Team manager Davide Brivio also believed that, on balance, the Qatar test had been positive.
“Overall we're satisfied with this test because we've found some good new things in the electronics and to improve the acceleration and in general we've been quite fast,” he declared. “Tonight we suffered later on when it was colder and there was less grip, but we've spent a lot of time working on a solution and we have gathered a lot of information which we will now study carefully. This is very important because this season we will have one practice session less at each race and we need to be ready.”
The Jerez test takes place on March 28-29.