Valentino Rossi was happy with his start to the Australian MotoGP weekend, but feels more is needed if he is to beat one of the three leading Spaniards and stand on Sunday's rostrum.
Rossi - the only rider on the grid who has previously won at Phillip Island, following Casey Stoner's retirement - concluded Friday practice in fifth position and half-a-second from factory Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
“I'm quite happy. Especially this afternoon when I improved a lot. I'm happy with my pace, because I'm very stable in the 1m 29s. But I have to go faster in some sections, especially the last section, where I have some difficulty to turn the bike - a little bit of understeer - and I lose in acceleration out of the corner,” declared Rossi.
“We have to improve the balance of the bike for corner entry and at the same time remain with good rear grip, because the race is long on the left side of the tyre. But I made my best lap at the end, with 23-24 laps on the tyre. I am very constant, in the 1m 29s from the first lap.
“So I'm happy. But if we want to go on the podium we need to beat one of the top three Spanish riders, so we must go faster. Bautista [third overall] is not so bad today also, but I think at the end he put the new tyre.”
Rossi has not beaten one of the title leaders - Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa
- in races they have all finished since his third place at Laguna Seca.
However the seven time MotoGP champion has an exceptional record at Phillip Island, the home race for many of his mechanics. Rossi was undefeated from 2001-2005 and has finished on the podium every year since 2000, with the exception of his two Ducati appearances.