What had looked like being a promising weekend for Valentino Rossi and Ducati turned sour when the MotoGP megastar slumped to 12th after a crash during qualifying for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

Seventh on his Ducati race debut earlier this month in Qatar, Rossi had been third, fifth and sixth during the free practice sessions at Jerez.

But the Italian damaged his preferred bike during his lowside fall early in qualifying and with it went his hopes of a top six start.

"We really didn't need that fall because I was going quite well with the right bike, the one I like better and that I would have used to do a time with the soft tyre later," said Rossi, who was one of seven riders to fall during the session.

"I had to lap with the other bike, which was very different, an experiment that unfortunately didn't work very well. I didn't feel good on the bike, and I was slower than I had been this morning.

"It's a shame. If I had to make a mistake, that was really the wrong moment, because otherwise the second row was within our reach. We could have been with Simoncelli, Spies and Dovizioso, who were on our pace.

"The top three are going faster, but the difference isn't as big as it was in Qatar. I like the track, and our pace isn't bad; we'll see what happens if we're able to get a good start."

Team-mate Nicky Hayden will start just one place in front of Rossi on a day when the top Desmosedici was satellite Pramac rider Randy de Puniet in seventh.

"Eleventh isn't exactly the ideal starting spot, by any means," said Hayden. "This morning we made a pretty good step forward to start with and improved the lap time pretty well there in mid-session, but this afternoon, with the wind, I didn't go much faster than I went this morning - under two tenths, which is certainly not good enough if you want to qualify well.

"I'm not happy about the performance. I don't want to make a lot of excuses; the bike-rider combination wasn't really good today, but anything can happen in the race tomorrow. The weather seems pretty unpredictable at the moment, so we've just got to get prepared for anything and see what happens."



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