Valentino Rossi was 'a lot more satisfied' with day two at the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, despite staying ninth on the timesheets.

The Movistar Yamaha rider closed from 0.881s to 0.370s behind Honda's reigning world champion Marc Marquez on a day when the top 16 were covered by one-second.

"Sincerely I'm a lot more satisfied about today because at the end my minimum target was to stay in the top ten [to go straight through to Qualifying 2 on Saturday] and this practice already is unbelievable because there are ten bikes in three tenths!" Rossi said.

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"So I'm not happy about my position but I'm not far from 'pole'."

The Italian, who appears more competitive over longer runs, added: "It will be very hard also tomorrow in qualifying but we improved the bike, the setting and my pace is not so bad. Very similar to the other top guys.

"We have to work a lot on the rear because maybe we can use the soft or the hard. So tomorrow will be important to understand which tyre to use for the race. At the moment it is 50/50."

Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was one place and 0.084s ahead of Rossi, who finished a close second to Marquez in last year's race.