Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi made strong gains with the wet set-up up of YZR-M1 during the opening free practice sessions for the Austin MotoGP, but the MotoGP world championship leader feels stronger in the dry at the Circuit of the Americas.

Rossi, who won the opening race under the floodlights in Qatar, was fourth quickest in the interrupted FP1 session on the Yamaha and sixth in FP2, when conditions dried out for the final 18 minutes of the session.

However, the nine-time world champion would prefer a dry race on Sunday, even though he has a much improved feeling in the wet with his M1 compared to last season.

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"I prefer it to be dry [for Sunday] but it's important in the wet because last year I never had a good feeling in the wet with the Yamaha, so we changed a lot on the bike with the settings and today I feel strong," Rossi said.

"We improved the rear feeling with the setting and it was better. But in the dry I feel better; I am just sixth because I hit some traffic and I can do a little bit better.

"We still have to work, but the first feeling of the bike is not so bad."