Valentino Rossi described Friday's track conditions in Argentina as like riding in the wet - and is worried by weather forecasts that suggest the real thing will arrive on Saturday.

The Italian was the top Yamaha rider, but only seventh fastest, after the opening pair of practice sessions at the rarely used Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.

"Difficult day for everybody because the track was very slippery and very dirty, especially this morning. In the afternoon it got better but we are still in trouble. So we hope that the condition of the track, the grip, gets better again tomorrow and especially for Sunday," Rossi said.

"It felt a little bit like in the wet. You need to make the corner a little bit slower because the bike slide very much, front and rear, on the edge. So also the lean angle is less than normal and you have to ride always very smooth, also because if you make a mistake and go off line it is very slippery.

"At the end I did some good laps, but it looks like with a lack of grip we suffer a bit more with the Yamaha. It looks like the Hondas are very strong and a little bit faster than us. Not just the two factory riders, but also Miller and Crutchlow."

Repsol's Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were first and second on Friday, almost one-second faster than Rossi. The Doctor believes that as the track improves momentum should swing towards Yamaha, hence his desire for the rain to stay away.

"On paper and what usually happens is that with better track conditions, Yamaha is faster. So for this reason we hope for good weather tomorrow, because if it rains it is a big effect for qualifying.

"But also even if Sunday is dry, if tomorrow it rains and Sunday is dry you would start from today. A very slippery track. So it's better that it remains dry and the track comes better and better."

Despite last season's form, a wet race would also be a concern be for Italian.

"Last year I was quite strong in the wet. But I'm very worried about this track in the wet because it is very dirty and quite slippery, so with the wet maybe the situation is difficult. So sincerely I prefer dry conditions, for a better race for everybody."

Qatar winner and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was just 14th quickest on Friday, meaning if it does rain on Saturday morning he will have to take part in Qualifying 1.

By Peter McLaren


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