MotoGP World Championship leader Valentino Rossi will start Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix from second on the grid, after losing out on pole by 0.260sec to team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo.
Third in both free practice sessions, Rossi and his side of the Fiat Yamaha garage had made tangible improvements to his M1 by the close of qualifying - although the Italian needs more traction for the race, which he will start with a 30 point advantage over Lorenzo.
"We improved the setting a lot this afternoon and managed to fix a lot of the problems we had in braking; we are more under control," said Rossi.
“But we are not at the maximum, we have some other problems. We still need more traction on the exits from the slow corners and we are also losing some time in the tight hairpin.
“We are not so bad, but Jorge is a little bit faster. He has been fastest all weekend and in great shape so I have to find somewhere some more speed.
“It is good to have Casey back, but it will be difficult for tomorrow because he has more or less my pace and don't forget Dani did some good laps on the harder tyre and should be strong.
“Anyway, four riders at the top is better than three.”
"We still have some work to do to make another step and get to what will probably be tomorrow's race pace - it looks like we're a little bit slower at the moment,” admitted team manager Davide Brivio. “Tomorrow's warm-up will be important and we will use the time as best we can in order to be ready to fight.”
Ducati's Casey Stoner will complete the front row in third.