After two tough rounds at Silverstone and Assen, Valentino Rossi heads to this weekend's German MotoGP simply aiming to do 'better than last year'.
That shouldn't be too difficult, since last year's Sachsenring race saw Rossi qualify a season-worst 16th, then ride to ninth in the race. This year there are only twelve manufacturer riders and Karel Abraham is unlikely to be fit for Germany.
Last year's race also marked Rossi's third event on the modified GP11.1 motorcycle, which was later followed by a new part-aluminum frame for round 14, but the Italian is still waiting for such substantial in-season 2012 upgrades.
Rossi - who briefly tried an aluminum swing-arm at Catalunya - is continuing to struggle with understeer and rear tyre degradation, the latter possibly caused by trying to compensate for the understeer by sliding the rear.
“I like the Sachsenring track. It's difficult because it's slow and narrow, but it also has some very fast sections, in addition to big elevation changes,” said Rossi, who took one of his most memorable victories from eleventh on the grid in 2006.
“It's quite different from the tracks at the last two rounds, Silverstone and Assen, so we'll see where we stand with our bike. Last year we had a difficult weekend in Germany, but of course my goal is always to do better every time we return to any track.”
A test will be held after the following Italian Grand Prix, with new Ducati engine parts long penciled in for Laguna Seca in late July, although team-mate Nicky Hayden recently cast doubt on the size of the US GP upgrade.
Rossi was forced to make a pit-stop after a serious rear tyre problem at Assen, masking what team manager Vittoriano Guareschi feels had been some positive signs.
“At the moment, we're working toward being more consistent over race distance, and at Assen, if we exclude the problem that hurt Valentino, we saw some positive signs in that regard, though considerable work still remains,” he said.
Rossi, who took a wet podium at Le Mans, and Hayden are sixth and seventh in the championship after seven of 18 rounds.