Valentino Rossi was in high spirits on the second day of the Qatar MotoGP test despite taking a tumble as the Italian rider made a breakthrough with the front-end issues he has been experiencing with the factory Yamaha.
Rossi, who was eight tenths off the pace set by Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso on day one as he finished seventh fastest, climbed the leaderboard on the YZR-M1 on Saturday to slot into second place behind team-mate Maverick Vinales, only 0.277s behind following a lap in 1m 54.732s.
The 38-year-old was caught out at Turn 7 in the evening and escaped relatively unscathed, but Rossi was in an upbeat mood after making significant progress with front-end feel at the Losail International Circuit.
“We improved very much the feeling with the bike because I suffered a lot in the winter tests, so this lap time is important. We will try tomorrow to continue like this and also to make the pace to try to understand our bike," he said.
“For the first time with the new bike, I have a better feeling with the front and I can enter the corner faster. We tried a lot of things and I have to say thanks to Yamaha because they give me a lot of support, especially after Phillip Island because it was very bad.
“We made some big changes with the weight distribution of the bike but the bike remained the same. From the first test with the 2017 version, I never had a good feeling with the front and I suffer very bad: I suffered in Valencia, in Sepang, but especially in Phillip Island," Rossi added.
“We come back home from Phillip Island very sad because we don't find nothing, so I have to say thank you to Yamaha because they arrive here with a lot of different ideas to try and I feel better."
Reflecting on his spill, the nine-time world champion said: “In the second exit after turn seven I lose the front and unfortunately I have a little bit of pain, but I am OK, especially after we improved a lot the pace and the lap time."