Valentino Rossi concedes he’s fighting on the backfoot following a difficult Friday practice ahead of the Spanish MotoGP as he struggled to find a strong “marriage” between the resurfaced Jerez circuit, the Michelin tyres and his Monster Yamaha.

The nine-time world champion failed to breach the top 10 at the end of FP2, but did have his late fast lap run stalled by a red flag, as he ended the afternoon session down in 14th place and 0.772s off pace-setter Danilo Petrucci for Ducati.

But Rossi’s concerns grew over both race pace and single lap speed as a balance and setup change in FP2 failed to provide him the confidence in both corner entry as well as the suspected rear traction under acceleration which has dogged the Yamaha team over the past 12 months.

“It was a difficult day because we know that here in Jerez we have to suffer a bit,” Rossi said. “In the last years we are not very fast but we hoped that we can be better than last year as we modified the bike which has helped us in the first three races.

“Also with the new asphalt we hoped we could be more competitive but the day was difficult. We tried some different things again in the afternoon but again I was not fast and my pace is not fantastic.

“I am quite low in the ranking and we are a bit in trouble, we are not strong, it looks like the marriage between the M1 and the tyres and the track is not fantastic.

“But anyway, it is just Friday we have a lot of things to try and we need to work as hard as possible as it will be difficult but we need to try to make the best.”

While hesitating on a precise problem he’s facing with his Yamaha, Rossi believes the difficulties are circuit-specific having not suffered at the past two rounds – reaching the podium in both Argentina and the United States – which makes the pace issue unpredictable.

“For me it is difficult to say the precise problem,” he said. “The difference is the mix between the tyres, the bike and the track.

“The bike is like Austin, the tyres are like Austin but here everything is more difficult. I don’t have a particular problem but in general. Unfortunately our pace is not strong enough to stay with the top guys at this moment.”

Rossi also debuted Yamaha’s new swingarm attachment, aimed at cooling the rear tyre temperature following a lead Ducati took earlier this year, but yesterday the Italian said the part was unlikely to be trialled until the post-Spanish GP test at Jerez on Monday (May 6).

“We tried the spoiler, the spoon, for us to have a bit less temperature in the tyre,” he said. “It is a small help but I tried with and without and it is not a big difference.”

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