Valentino Rossi has stressed the importance of placing inside the top five at the close of qualifying, should he wish to challenge for a first MotoGP victory at Mugello since 2008 on Sunday.
Although the Italian ended Friday's second free practice session sixth fastest, with a time that was 0.644s slower than pace setter Andrea Iannone, Rossi had his eyes firmly placed on team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in second, who was just 0.2s away.
Along with qualifying well, Rossi set his sights on improving the setting of his Yamaha M1 through the final two sectors – from the two, fast, uphill rights at Arrabbiata – to the finish line in order to improve his chances.
“It was quite a good day,” started the 37-year old. “In the afternoon it was quite good conditions. The track didn't provide fantastic grip after the rain of yesterday. At the end it was not so bad. We had some issues with the balance. We needed another session this afternoon.
“In the morning we will try something different. The good thing is that I am in sixth position but the distance from the second rider – because Iannone did a really good lap time – but Lorenzo is very small. At the same time the first ten people are very close so we need to make some improvements in the second part of the track where I'm not so fast. We will wait for tomorrow morning and we will see.
“I have some issues in the S4 but also in S3 after Arrabbiata. I am not very good. I don't feel at the maximum with the bike and also in all my career I was not so good in T4. We need to improve the feeling and we need to push at the limit to ride 100 percent so we'll try for tomorrow.
“Especially I don't have enough rear grip. I have to wait too long before I open the throttle, in the last corner I lose too much. Tomorrow we will work on this point of view.
“It's very, very important if I want some change to fight at the top I need to start top five. First row in more important but also top five is OK.”
The first session of the weekend was held in damp and drying conditions. Judging the track to be too damp for slicks and too dry for wets, Rossi took the opportunity to complete a succession of starts in a bid to improve on one of his weaker points.
“Unfortunately this morning we had a bad condition. For going out on the track it was quite useless because the track was half and half. It was too dry for the wet tyres and too damp for the slick. We tried to do some practice with the starts because this year we are not fantastic at the starts. We tried to improve and to modify some settings, some different stuff. It was OK, not so bad.
“At the end this morning the clutch stay the same but we tried some different master cylinder. We work with some different stuff, some different settings for the start. At the end it was not so bad.”
As is traditional, Rossi is expected to unveil a special helmet design on Saturday morning.