Valentino Rossi was content with his afternoon's work as he qualified fifth for Sunday's Spanish MotoGP race in Jerez and believes team-mate Jorge Lorenzo will be the man to beat.

The championship leader, who heads Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso by six points, hopes to stay within touching distance of pole-sitter Lorenzo in the opening stages of Sunday's 27-lap race.

"Looking at performance on the track Jorge will try and escape from the beginning," said Rossi. "He's the guy with more pace. He set the pole position. He usually start well, he will try to escape. I will try to make a good start and stay close to Jorge. After we will see where we are with the other riders, the pace with Marquez and the pace of the Ducatis."

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Rossi identified the final section of the Jerez circuit as the area which needs most improvement. It's also an area at which Lorenzo excels.

"We are not fantastic, especially in the last section. We are not so good in the fast corner. Jorge is able to take it a bit faster and I think he will be the man to beat. He arrive very well. He also have great pace. We will try to fight for a good race and to make another step. We will try to improve the balance for tomorrow."

Having stated the harder option rear tyre was not totally to his liking on Friday, Rossi also revealed his is leaning towards his softer option (the medium compound) for Sunday's race.

"It will be hard to understand and to choose the tyre also. Tomorrow morning the condition will be a lot more easy, more fresh. In the afternoon the situation change quite a lot, the bike become very difficult to ride. We have to improve to make the right decision for the tyre and we will see.

"Today we improve a lot. It was not so bad from this morning because yesterday we were a little bit behind with the set-up for the bike. We try the softer tyre but anyway I have a good feeling with my bike. I was able to go fast. We improve a lot already from this morning and it's not so bad. Also for the afternoon we did another step.

"For me it's the soft [for the race]. But it is still open because some other riders try the hard. We have to see the condition to see whether it will be more for the soft."

The nine-time world champion's final time of 1m 38.6s was some 0.7s off Lorenzo's new circuit record but he is still content with his Saturday afternoon performance.

"With the qualifying it was quite good. Starting from the second row and fifth position is not so bad. I can do a little bit better but anyway it's ok."

Reigning double champion Marc Marquez, currently 30 points from Rossi after their clash in Argentina, will start from second place. However the Repsol Honda star will be riding with a recently broken little finger.