Valentino Rossi's 2011 Silverstone MotoGP debut was in danger of being a nightmare, until the arrival of race day rain.
Absent from the inaugural 2010 event on the new Silverstone grand prix layout due to a broken leg, the Italian legend qualified just 13th out of the 16 riders last year.
Rossi's qualifying time was a worrying 3.7sec off pole and he had finished inside the top ten just once during free practice.
But soaking conditions on race day revived his chances and the Ducati rider reached sixth at the chequered flag.
“I have a one-season 'disadvantage' at Silverstone compared to the other riders, who started a year ahead of me, so I'll have to ride as much as possible during the practice sessions in order to understand the track well, as last year was quite difficult,” said Rossi ahead of the 2012 event.
Wet weather is again a possibility this weekend, in which case Rossi will be aiming to repeat his Le Mans podium. If it's dry, The Doctor will be seeking to confirm his recent Catalunya form.
Rossi finished seventh in Barcelona, but with a best race lap 0.5sec from winner Jorge Lorenzo. The seven time champion then joined the majority of his MotoGP rivals in two days of testing.
“During the Aragon test last week, we found some small things with the electronics and worked a bit on the settings. Now we'll see how it works in England,” said Rossi. “We hope I'll be able to ride well, that we'll find a good setup and that we can stay at the same level in the dry as we were at the Barcelona GP, although our chances will be better if it rains.”
Team-mate Nicky Hayden
has notched fourth-place finishes in each of his visits to Silverstone, having qualified seventh last year.
“It's exciting to go to Silverstone,” said the American. “We've been there two years now, but each time it's been a little different, with changes to the pavement or the pit complex, so it's a little like going to a new track.
“With the lap being so long, you've really got to take advantage of any dry time you get to find a good setup, as the sessions go by really quickly. There are so many different corners, and it's really important to dial in the electronics for all the sections. I'd say we lean on the electronics more there than at some other tracks.
“It's fast and open, with high-speed corners, and I really like it. The last couple of races haven't been great, but we just have to hang in there and try to take a step. It won't be easy, but I'm looking forward to the weekend.”
Team manager Vittoriano Guareschi hopes for minor progress with the GP12 at Silverstone.
“Last year the Silverstone weekend was very challenging, even if we had a decent team result in the end, with Nicky fourth and Vale sixth,” he said. “We're coming off a grand prix that was followed by two days of testing, during which we made a little progress. Our goal is to continue to improve, trying to adapt the settings that we found for the GP12 to this fast, difficult track.”