Sunday night's start to the Qatar MotoGP test saw two firsts for Valentino Rossi.

The Italian finished within one-second of the fastest lap for the first time as a Ducati rider, but he also suffered his first fall from a Desmosedici.

"It wasn't bad for a first day. I was able to ride the bike better, and I enjoyed myself," began Rossi, who was eighth fastest and 0.767sec behind Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa.

"Although I was just eighth, my times aren't too far from the top: seven tenths is still a big difference, but anyway it's progress, considering that I did my best time with a very used tyre.

"We worked well on the settings, even if in a couple parts of the circuit I'm still not fast enough, and we'll have to try some more solutions tomorrow. As for the shoulder, I'm happy because I have a little more strength, and that enables me to ride better.

"Today I also had my first crash on a Ducati, which I naturally did intentionally because after a while, you have to do a little fall...

"All joking aside, I entered too quickly and lost the front: I was able to pick it up and avoid crashing while I was on the track, but I dropped it in the gravel - no big deal though."

Rossi - who won last year's Qatar Grand Prix for Yamaha - was the top Ducati rider on Sunday, although team-mate Nicky Hayden was only one place behind him.

"Right out of the gate, it wasn't too bad, and then we were up against a wall for a while," said the American. "The team made one little change with ride height and I was able to get a decent lap time and get consistent.

"In parts of the track I felt pretty good, but there are spots where the steering still needs to improve. If we can do better in those areas, we should be able to drop the lap time.

"I feel a little bit closer than Malaysia, but we certainly need to go quicker tomorrow."

Monday night will mark the last chance for testing before the 2011 racing season begins next weekend at the same Losail circuit.



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