World Champion Valentino Rossi will, unusually, start tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix from the second row of the grid after a day of mixed performance.

Rossi, who struggled in yesterday's one-hour qualifying session, complained about lack of grip and traction and knew he and his team would have to make adjustments in the set-up to compete with the ultra competitive field.

It seemed to work for the 24-year-old, being a massive 0.7 seconds faster than second placed Tohru Ukawa in this morning's Free Practice. But come this afternoon's all-important final qualifier and Rossi just couldn't match the Ducati's of Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss - or even the fellow RCVs of Max Biaggi and Tohru Ukawa.

"We still have some problems but not like yesterday," began the Italian. "On the last lap when it was possible to make a little bit better time I got blocked and lost time and concentration.

"I'd obviously like to be on the front row but I'm not too worried about the race. For me it is important to have a good rhythm and we have that," Vale continued. "The suspension is coming better from yesterday and it is now possible to ride the bike. We still have traction problems but I hope it is the same for the others!"

Rossi's 21-year-old team-mate, Nicky Hayden, also struggled to find the perfect set-up for his 990cc Honda. The American has been 14th, 15th, 15th and now 19th fastest in the four one-hour sessions in the build-up to Sunday's race.

"A bit of a frustrating day again I guess," confessed the reigning AMA SBK champ. "We kinda went round in circles trying stuff. In the end I really didn't really find anything that worked for me. Thought we had it going in the right direction in this morning's session but when it warmed up this afternoon a lot of things change which was a bit of a bummer!

"We'll sit down this evening with the team and look at all the data - there are some really experienced guys here and I hope we'll be able to work something out for tomorrow - let's hope it's a different story!"