Valentino Rossi remained upbeat about the potential of the all new Ducati Desmosedici GP12, despite losing time and positions during day two of the Sepang MotoGP test.
Rossi, fifth and 0.74s from the top on Tuesday, slipped to seventh and 0.99s behind Honda's reigning world champion Casey Stoner on Wednesday.
But the Italian insisted that his positive first impressions of the freshly-built GP12 had been reinforced and that he had met his lap time target.
“I am quite happy because we made a step compared with yesterday and I was able to reach our target for today, which was to go into the 2min 01sec. I did three or four laps in 2m 01s” said Rossi.
“The position is worse than yesterday, and also the distance is one or two tenths more, but it is a little bit what we expect. We know Honda and Yamaha are very fast. They have been developing their [1000cc] bike for nearly one year. Our bike is brand new. The four factory riders from the other teams are also very strong.
“Tomorrow will be a very important day, where I can try to push more, make the best lap time and understand the difference with the other guys. I hope to improve my lap time and if I can stay less than one-second from the top I am happy.”
Rossi experimented with weight distribution during his 44 laps, but continues to have difficulty when exiting corners (pictured). However he insists the gains made in corner entry have been 'huge'.
“A little bit of understeer and especially difficult in acceleration,” said Rossi, “but we are very happy because now I brake and enter the corner with a good feeling. Compared to last year we have made a huge step. That was the worst problem. But it is too early to stay if we can arrive at the top and when.”
Rossi predicted that they have so far solved fifty per cent of their technical problems relative to the 2011 season, which he finished in seventh overall with just one podium.
And was he fooled by the false 1m 58s lap time briefly credited to Ben Spies at the end of the day?
“I was very worried because Ben made his lap time from the pits! So how fast would he be on a flying lap?” smiled Rossi. “No, I understood it was a bit too fast.”
Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden was tenth quickest but halted testing early to rest his healing shoulder. The top Ducati on day two was Pramac's Hector Barbera, a fraction ahead of Rossi in sixth. Barbera is believed to have the previous 'Valencia spec' version of the GP12.