Arguably the fastest rider at the last three races, Valentino Rossi began the German MotoGP weekend down in 14th place after Friday practice.

Unexpectedly cold conditions seemed to hit all of the Yamaha riders especially hard. Tech 3 riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith were eleventh and twelfth, with Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo down in 16th after being one of five riders to fall at Turn 11.

In order to avoid Qualifying 1, the Yamaha riders must break into the top ten in Saturday morning's FP3 session.

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"It was a difficult day because the weather was very bad. This made everything more difficult, and also more dangerous, because also the soft option for the front [tyre] is a bit too hard for this temperature," Rossi said.

"This morning, I had a quite good feeling, but after it started to rain. In the afternoon, we tried something different and also I have to work only with used tyres, rear and front.

"But anyway, our potential is nothing special. Looks like today, all the Yamahas are struggling with the front. We don't have enough feeling with the front, especially on the right, especially at Turn 11, but also on the other right corners.

"At the end, I wasn't able to make a lap pushing at 100%. So I am in a bad position.

"I never have the feeling to push. I have the clear feeling if I try more, I can lose the front. The Turn 11 is a very dangerous point, very fast, so maybe it's better to wait a little bit and hope for a better condition tomorrow.

"We have to try to be faster and more competitive."

The Sachsenring is the slowest circuit on the calendar and offers a unique challenge for the riders.

"This track is a particular track because it's very tight, especially the first part and it is the only place where you stay 25 seconds on the left," Rossi explained. "And sincerely, it is physically very demanding, because staying for a long time on the left is difficult. Also the track is short and you have to do 30 laps in the race.

"But for me Assen, or other big and fast tracks, are more difficult. In the end, this track is not so bad, the bigger problem is it goes left, left, left... and then right. So every lap we arrive [at turn 11] is very scary. Apart from that, the rest is good, I like the track."

Rossi starts this weekend - the midway point of the season - having slipped 18 points from Lorenzo and 42 from Honda's Marc Marquez due to his fall in the wet at Assen. Marquez was third fastest on Friday.

By Peter McLaren