Although doubting that he can threaten Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner, MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi is hoping to fight for the remaining podium place in Sunday's US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.

The Italian legend, riding in his second race back from a broken leg, qualified sixth on the grid, 0.710sec from pole but less than a tenth behind third-placed Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda).

Rossi, who finished fourth last weekend at Sachsenring, is finding the Californian racetrack tougher on his injuries than the German venue had been- and it is the shoulder he injured back in April that is causing the most problems.

"We didn't go too badly today but we need to improve our setting a little bit to get closer to the leaders. Lorenzo and Stoner are very fast but after that there are a few riders quite close together, including me, so it's not too bad," said Rossi after qualifying.

"I think it's going to be very difficult tomorrow because this track is a lot harder for me than Sachsenring, but I hope I can do a good race. There are a few corners where we know we can be a bit faster so tomorrow morning we will try to make some small changes to the setting to allow that, then I need to get a good start.

"My leg feels better than yesterday, which is good, the problem today is the shoulder because my left one isn't strong enough to compensate completely for the lack of power in my right one and now I have some pain in both!

"My hope for tomorrow is to be able to finish the race without too much pain and to do the best we can in the circumstances."


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