Valentino Rossi will start Sunday's Australian MotoGP from just 13th on the grid after continuing to struggle at what has previously been one of his most successful circuits.

The nine time world champion won five times in a row at Phillip Island from 2001-2005, a record Casey Stoner has the chance to equal on Sunday.

Stoner, now at Honda, has won the last four Australian Grands Prix for Ducati. Rossi was two-seconds slower than Stoner's 2011 pole time.

"Before we arrived here, we expected to do much better than this, considering that Phillip Island is a track where Ducati and I have always done well," confirmed Rossi, who had been 15th until gaining two places at the very end of qualifying.

"Instead, I again had trouble riding today, and I was very slow. It's really a shame, and I'm very sorry.

"Evidently we haven't managed to solve the problems we've had since the first session here. We'll try to make some small changes in tomorrow's warm-up, but although we'll certainly try to do better than this, I'm expecting a very challenging race."

While Rossi struggled, team-mate Nicky Hayden - riding with the carbon fibre, rather than aluminium, front frame section - led the Desmosedici challenge with sixth place on the grid.

"This was my first time on the second row this year, and for a while today, I thought I could do even better," said Hayden. "It's good, but we're not celebrating sixth place since we expect a lot when we come to Phillip Island.

"The main thing for tomorrow will be to figure out how to get the tyres to last over race distance, and I'm having to use some strange lines to miss all the bumps. I lost a bit of time when one front tyre didn't come in, but other than that, I've got no excuses. I had good, clear laps, and I went about as fast as I could.

"Tomorrow will be my 150th Grand Prix in the premier class, and I'm proud to be here that long and still be on a factory team. With this grid position, it would be nice to get our best dry result tomorrow. It will be very tough because a lot of guys are going quick, but we'll try."

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment