An upbeat Valentino Rossi believes Sunday could prove to be a 'good day' for the Italian superstar at the Austin MotoGP.

Rossi will start the second round of the championship in Texas from the second row on the grid after qualifying in sixth position, one place and 0.001s behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

The Movistar Yamaha rider's time of 2m 03.244s left him 0.471s behind the record pole position lap established by reigning world champion and Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez, but Rossi - runner-up in Qatar - believes he can be in the frame for the second race running.

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"I am happy about today's qualifying, especially because from this morning to the afternoon session we were able to improve the bike and in qualifying I was pretty fast," he said.

"Following the last free practice we also made another step ahead and I enjoyed the qualifying session; I went well.

"I am happy to be on second row; it is not bad at all. I am also happy I am just four tenths from pole position," Rossi added.

"My pace is good, although we still have to work and cut some little tenths but I think tomorrow might be a good day for us."

Rossi was held up on one fast lap after being forced to go around the outside of a slow moving Lorenzo through a quick left hander, the Italian backing off and giving a 'what happened?' wave back to his team-mate.

Austin was one of Rossi's toughest races last season - qualifying eighth and finishing sixth in the Repsol Honda dominated race.

"Both the riders and the team have done a good job today," declared Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli. "Last year in qualifying Jorge was a second behind and Valentino over two seconds off. Now both are within half a second of the front so the progress is clear to see.

"We still have some things to work out and maybe we can make another small step forward for the race. In Qatar we closed the gap over the practice sessions and were competitive at the front end during the race so we are confident that we can do the same here.

"The second row is not a bad place to start and the race is long and not won on the first lap. The weather could make things interesting for everyone so let's see what Sunday brings us!"