Valentino Rossi says he wasn’t able to discover a solution to his front tyre degradation issues with his Monster Yamaha team as he toiled to 14th place in qualifying and fears for a tough 2019 MotoGP opener in Qatar.

The nine-time world champion complained of major tyre performance drop “after five laps” during the second practice session at the Losail International Circuit which saw him tumble from leading the times in FP1 to outside the top 10 in FP2.

Rossi concedes no clear fixes were found during the final practice sessions and qualifying, blaming a narrow operating window he currently has to extract the best performance from his Yamaha, and is already bracing for a painful race in Qatar.

“I have the same problem today because in the afternoon I had a problem with front tyre,” Rossi said. “So we are in trouble because I am quite slow.

“I don’t have a good feeling on the front and we damage the tyre too so it will be hard, it will be difficult.”

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Rossi has also used both his aerodynamic fairing options for the entire 2019 season in Qatar, with one upgrade permitted throughout the season compared to what each rider starts the campaign using, while every other rider is not expected to use update option until the mid-season.

The 40-year-old says the new fairing was not used in the hope of finding front tyre solutions but rather because Yamaha conceded it is set to be the only fairing upgrade it will provide all year.

“This was the plan to try because Maverick liked the wings a lot, Quartararo and Franco have the normal one, but it is not a big difference,” he said. “I said it was better to remain with the old wings and try to adapt it but Yamaha said that they are not sure they will bring an update in the year.”

Rossi’s tyre woe appears to be his individual problem as none of the other Yamaha riders have complained about suffering with it.

While Rossi qualified 14th, teammate Maverick Vinales stormed to pole position almost one second faster than the Italian, with Fabio Quartararo qualifying fifth place and Franco Morbidelli in eighth place for the Petronas Yamaha satellite squad.



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