After a torrid weekend in Qatar, which culminated in Valentino Rossi's first public criticism of Ducati, the Italian heads for this weekend's Jerez MotoGP round hopeful that testing data will provide a decent starting point for his Ducati GP12.
The MotoGP legend struggled throughout the Losail season opener, qualifying twelfth and last of the manufacturer bikes, then managing only tenth in the race.
But Rossi's form at the final pre-season Jerez test was much more promising, Rossi setting the sixth fastest lap time, just under one-second from the top.
Rossi is the most successful rider ever at the Andalusian circuit, with eight career wins, including six in the premier-class.
The Doctor's 2011 Jerez Ducati debut ended in a controversy when he fell on the damp track early in the race, bringing down Honda's Casey Stoner. Rossi had climbed from twelfth to third prior to his fall.
“I've always liked the Jerez track a lot, and we certainly must try to do better than in Qatar,” said Rossi. “By the end of the three-day test in March, we had found a decent set-up for the GP12, so we have a base to start from for this track as we prepare the bike for the race.
“It will be very important to work well during the Friday and Saturday practice sessions, focusing particularly on maintaining a good direction and on taking advantage of what we currently have to work with,” he added, referring to technical updates currently being developed.
Ducati team manager Vittoriano Guareschi is confident Rossi will be more comfortable with his GP12 at Jerez.
“We're returning to Jerez a month after the winter test there, so we should find very similar conditions,” he said. “The first race, in Qatar, was very difficult for Valentino, as we didn't find a good set-up that would let him feel comfortable on the bike. In Spain, by taking advantage of the work we did there in March, we'll focus on helping him once again find a good feeling.”