By Stephen English
The Catalan MotoGP has been a happy hunting ground for Valentino Rossi, with the Italian having won a record nine times at the track.
Returning to the scene of so much success obviously gives Rossi confidence and at the pre-race press conference he said:
"This weekend is maybe one of the best three, I love this track. The layout is fantastic and it is always fun to ride MotoGP on this track and Barcelona is a great city."
After such a disappointing run of races, including a first lap exit after clashing with Alvaro Bautista last time at Mugello, Rossi knows that it is crucial to find good form at Montmelo but he saw lots of positives from his home race even though it ended early.
He did however admit that the new qualifying format is still a problem for him and something that he needs to improve upon this weekend with a top six qualifying effort his target:
"Apart from the race Mugello was a positive race for me and my team but we still have to go faster, especially on Saturday afternoon. I am not strong enough and the other riders are able to go improve more their laptime.
"But except for [the race crash] I had a good pace in all the practices but we need to make another step and start in the second row.
"For me the main problem is that with just 15 minutes [in Qualifying 2] it is very difficult to understand the right moment to go on the track. You have to improve your lap time but be very careful not to have another rider behind.
“If you go faster and give a good slipstream maybe two or three riders can overtake you and you start behind them. It is a lot about the strategy of having a clear lap and also no one behind you."
Rossi is sixth in the championship standings, after 5 of 18 rounds.