It wasn't worth a celebration, but Valentino Rossi was satisfied with improvements made to the set-up of his Ducati on the way to qualifying seventh for Sunday's Japanese MotoGP.
The seven time MotoGP champion, using the new aluminium front-section on his GP11.1's frame for the second event, focused mainly on weight distribution. The Italian qualified as the top Desmosedici, albeit 1.2sec from Honda's Casey Stoner, who won last year's Motegi race for Ducati.
“We're pretty satisfied, although we can't celebrate seventh place. Still, I was able to ride the bike a bit better," said Rossi. "We improved the setting again this morning, and I was faster in the afternoon.
"We've changed the weight distribution for Motegi, and now I can ride more naturally, though still not as I would like.
"Our goal was to manage to lap at 1min 46.5, and as we were able to do that, I'd say we worked well. Also, our pace with the hard tyre isn't bad. We're not far from Spies [5th] and Simoncelli [6th]. We hope to get a good start, and then we'll see. Let's hope it doesn't rain, as I'd like a dry race.”
Team-mate Nicky Hayden, using the previous version of the GP11.1, qualified 0.296sec slower than Rossi, leaving him tenth on the grid.
“We weren't able to continue from the good start we had yesterday, even though our times aren't too far from the second group," confessed Hayden. "With the cooler track, I didn't have the same grip, and I was spinning quite a lot on the edge of the tyre.
"This afternoon, we also picked up some chatter that I hadn't experienced all weekend, which made it really difficult to go fast. We improved compared to yesterday, but not as much as we should have.
"We haven't made a lot of changes to the bike, as we tried to keep it pretty simple and just chip away. We can't be happy with tenth, and it's going to be tough tomorrow, but hopefully we can get a good start and have a decent race.”