Following a tough weekend in Texas, a return to familiar Jerez asphalt saw Valentino Rossi claimed a close fourth on the Friday practice timesheets for the Spanish MotoGP.
The Italian, who had been second fastest in a pre-season test at the circuit, set a best lap time just 0.312s behind pace-setting team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
But the seven time MotoGP champion remains concerned about rear tyre choice, having been unable to better his morning time until he switched from the hard to soft tyre in the closing stages of the afternoon.
“We tried to understand the right tyre choice for the race, because I like the harder tyre usually but unfortunately when the bike is on full lean here the hard tyre does not have enough grip,” said Rossi.
“This creates movement and spin. So we still haven't decided. Maybe we have to work more with the soft. But it is difficult with the soft also to make 27 laps. Anyway, we are in fourth place and not so far from pole position.”
Having lined-up just seventh and eighth on the grid for the opening races for his 2013 Yamaha return, Rossi has his sights set on at least a second row in Saturday's qualifying session.
“Tomorrow will be an important day to improve the settings and especially to try to qualify in the first five,” said The Doctor, whose most recent Jerez victory was in 2009.
Rossi rode from seventh to second in the season-opening Qatar race, but only advanced from eighth to sixth in Austin.