By Stephen English
The season-opening Qatar MotoGP was one of the lowest points in Valentino Rossi's career, but a wet Friday at Jerez left the nine times world champion in much better spirits.
“Today we are happy with the practice,” commented the Italian. “I am back near the top and finish in second position.”
Wet weather has proved to be Rossi's only opportunity to shine during his time with Ducati and it was imperative that the team continued to show strong pace in inclement conditions.
“It was important for us especially,” continued Rossi, 0.660sec behind Honda's Dani Pedrosa on Friday afternoon. “Last year I was always quite competitive in the wet conditions so we had to confirm with the new bike is the same and it is quite good like last year.”
Rossi, who fought from twelfth to third during year's wet race before falling, believes he can put up a fight if the poor weather continues.
“For me my feeling is that we are competitive in the wet, so if the conditions remain like this we can fight for a good result,” said Rossi.
But he also warned, “Unfortunately I expect that if it is in dry conditions we are not so competitive.”
The Italian revealed that he is not using the same set-up as in Qatar, where he qualified just twelfth and finished tenth, and has instead switched back to settings similar to those used during winter testing at Jerez.
“Today I had two bikes,” said Rossi. “One bike is like the winter test and one is like the Qatar race. I prefer the setting from the test here. So we start from that and it was quite good in the wet.”
Rossi set the sixth fastest time at the Jerez test, held in March.