Ever since watching Casey Stoner blast effortless past his Yamaha along the main straight at Qatar, en route to victory, Valentino Rossi has feared what Ducati horsepower will do on the longest straight of the year - and he'll find out next weekend.
The straight in question, all 1200 metres of it, forms part of the Shanghai International Circuit, home of the Chinese Grand Prix, and - while the Japanese teams have all attempted to up their horsepower following the top-speed shock inflicted on them at round one - Rossi still expects a tough weekend.
"We know [Shanghai] is not ideal for our bike and maybe they're going to have to split the main straight in two - one part for Ducati and one part for the rest of us!" smiled the Italian, who guided his M1 to victory around the twists of Jerez at round two. "Joking aside though, it's a very long straight and we know that we're going to lack some top speed on it but the new engine modifications we had in Turkey worked well and there's a good improvement, so hopefully it won't be too serious. We're second in the championship and we've lost a few points so we need to aim for a podium to get back on track."
Those lost points came after a rear tyre problem reduced Rossi to a tenth place finish last time out in Turkey, where Stoner again won to pull 10 points clear. The Italian also suffered a tyre problem at China last year, but believes Michelin has the situation under control.
"We had a bad result in Turkey which we weren't expecting after being on pole, but Michelin have been working very hard to understand what went wrong and to ensure that it won't happen again," said Rossi. "We had a good test on Monday and tried a lot of new tyre combinations with China in mind, so we are going there with some ideas about what we think will work. Now it's a case of making what is hopefully the right tyre choice and then seeing how things go on Friday morning.
"Last year we had a big problem in China and I couldn't finish the race, but in 2005 I had a great victory there in the wet so I have some nice memories of this track as well as some bad ones!"