Having seen promising signs from a new set-up in last Sunday's Spanish MotoGP, Valentino Rossi
will pick up where he left off in this weekend's Portuguese round at Estoril.
After qualifying just 13th on the grid at Jerez, Rossi felt the race-day switch to a more Ducati-style set-up, similar to that of team-mate Nicky Hayden, should be explored further.
The Italian, a five-time Estoril winner, will thus start with that set-up during Friday's free practice sessions.
“The plan is to start on Friday with the setting that we used in the race at Jerez, as I think it has some more potential for us to work toward,” said Rossi, who finished ninth at Jerez and was tenth in Qatar. “We'll see if we can take a step forward and improve our result somewhat.”
In terms of the circuit, Rossi added: “I like the Estoril track. It has some sections that are a bit tricky and the weather can be very unpredictable, but I like to race there. We had a decent race in Portugal last year with the Ducati, and we hope to do the same this Sunday.”
Rossi finished fifth at Estoril last year, when Hayden - the top Ducati rider in both races so far this year - finished ninth.
The American, taken out of the title lead by team-mate Dani Pedrosa
in the 2006 round, also needs to improve his set-up if he is to repeat his one-lap speed for a full race distance.
Hayden, who qualified on the front row at Jerez but slipped to eighth in the race, said:
“I can't say that I love or hate Estoril. It's a tight track with a little bit of everything, and the wind can be challenging. My favourite part is the fast corner in the back, but the rest of it is pretty normal.
“I'm looking forward to Friday. We'll see what the weather's going to be like, as it's pretty unpredictable here. What we don't need is exactly what we had in Jerez: mostly wet sessions and then having to go into a dry race. It's clear we need the whole weekend to try to sort some things out and put up a better fight on Sunday.”
Sunday's race will be followed by a test session on the Monday, when Ducati are expected to debut some new parts for the GP12.
“The Estoril GP will be important for confirming that we're on the right path in terms of the GP12's setup, with both Vale and Nicky,” said team manager Vittoriano Guareschi. “Then on Monday we'll have a day of post-race testing during which we can make some more checks as we continue our bike's development.”