Valentino Rossi faces another third row start in Sunday's Catalunya MotoGP, but feels he has the pace to be among the leading contenders.
Although one-second adrift of Dani Pedrosa's record pole lap in qualifying, Rossi was within 0.3s of Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo, who will start on the outside of the front row.
“Unfortunately we still need something more for qualifying, admitted Rossi, speaking in the Catalunya paddock. “With one tenth less we could start in the top five, but we still need to improve.
“I am very close to the limit on braking - I lose one tenth in three places on the lap, compared with Jorge and Crutchlow. If I try to brake later it is difficult for me to stop the bike for the corner, so we are still working on the setting in this area.”
Prior to qualifying, Rossi had been no lower than fourth all weekend - and fastest of all on Friday.
“On race pace I am not so bad. It looks like Pedrosa is very fast, maybe the fastest - not only in qualifying but the rhythm. Jorge is also fast, but we are close. Also Crutchlow and Marquez,” he said. “So there are three or four riders. We have a good pace. Very constant. It will be interesting to understand because the race will be long, 25 laps, and especially if it is hot like everybody expects.
“So it will be important to do a good start and keep a good rhythm. Tyre choice will also be interesting - the hard or soft rear.”
Pressed on the tyre decision, Rossi replied: “Still we don't know which one. I think on the grid all the top guys will just decide to use the same tyre as the other top guys!”
Despite the searing Spanish heat, most seem to be leaning towards the softer rear. Rossi explained: “With the hard it is very difficult. The problem is the spin, when it spins the temperature goes up too much and it becomes difficult to control the bike.”
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