Valentino Rossi is predicting a 'great battle' in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, after the top four title contenders occupied the top four places in Friday practice.
Rossi, aiming for an incredible eighth consecutive home victory, was forced into second position by Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, with Ducati's Casey Stoner - currently joint second with Rossi in the world championship standings, one point behind Lorenzo - claiming third place ahead of triple 2009 podium finisher Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda).
“We did quite well today and it looks like we're in good shape,” said Rossi, who lapped 0.195sec slower than Lorenzo. “It is only Friday so there's a long way to go yet, but it's looking like it could be a great battle on the track because the first few riders are very close.
“We have a few small things to work on still with the setting because I can't ride exactly how I want to yet, but we already have a good rhythm and we have important data to help us improve further.
“This is a great track for me and it doesn't matter if Mugello comes after a bad race or a good one, it's something apart from the 'normal' championship and I always feel great motivation. Plus the sun is shining so I am very happy!” added Rossi, who finished 16th and last after being caught out by the changeable track conditions last time out at Le Mans.
“Valentino was consistently fast and amongst the top riders for the whole hour so we have made a good start,” declared team manager Davide Brivio. “We still have some small adjustments to make and hopefully that will help us to find a few tenths more. It's very hot and if it remains like this then it will be a hard race for the riders but it's better than rain! We're feeling positive and we will continue to work and improve our package tomorrow.”