Sunday evening probably can't come soon enough for Valentino Rossi and Ducati, who have struggled all weekend at their home Misano round.

The San Marino Grand Prix is the most local of Rossi's two home races, and the seven-time MotoGP champion will again need the kind of race-day recovery seen earlier in the year at Mugello.

Rossi rode from twelfth on the grid - after a rain-interrupted qualifying - to sixth at Mugello. The Doctor will start eleventh at Misano, having been outside the top ten all weekend and out-qualified by satellite Ducati rider Hector Barbera.

But Rossi insists progress has been made and the situation is not quite as bad as it looks.

"Today went a bit better. We changed the set-up a little compared to yesterday, and then we stuck with that, making small steps," he said.

"There were no longer parts of the track where I lost a lot of time compared to the others, as we reached a steady level around the entire lap, although of course we're still not as fast as we'd like to be.

"I was a little unfortunate on what would have been my fast lap, because after three good sectors, I came upon de Puniet going slow in the final hairpin before the last two left-handers, and there alone I lost half a second.

"Otherwise I could have done a 1min 34.0 and started from the third row, which is what we had set out to do. Anyway, I'm not too bad in terms of pace, so we'll see what we can do in the race tomorrow."

Team-mate Nicky Hayden will start just 15th on the grid.

"This morning wasn't bad to start with. I had used tyres from yesterday and was able to find a rhythm and do some decent laps. As has been the case lately though, things got worse in the afternoon," he explained.

"I was pushing the front, and I had a lot of front chatter, even with the soft tyres. It's tough for Ducati here at their home, with the team trying hard and all the fans wanting to see us do something.

"I've got to believe the bike is better than fifteenth, so I've got to do a better job myself. It's not the day we hoped for, and we'll try to do better in the race tomorrow."

The only happy Ducati rider at Misano on Saturday seemed to be ninth-place Barbera, who said:

"Things don't happen by accident. We are setting fast laps times because we have been doing a good job over the last few races," said the Spaniard. "The bike is working well, we have hardly touched it and I am just focused on getting the most out of my riding because I am comfortable with this setting.

"My pace on used tyres is in the high 1'34s and that should be the case for the race tomorrow. I did every lap alone and on used rubber, setting similar lap times to Stoner last year. I haven't gone into a race with such clear ideas as this before so we have to make the most of it."

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