Valentino Rossi says he can be confident in the gains he’s found with his Monster Yamaha after a “quite desperate” Friday at Jerez but felt he was unlucky to miss out on Q2 in qualifying for the Spanish MotoGP.

The nine-time world champion will line up in 13th place for the Spanish race after missing out on an automatic Q2 spot in Saturday’s FP3 by finishing the session 11th, just 0.041s slower than Jorge Lorenzo one place ahead, with the top 10 all given Q2 places.

Rossi endured a similar fate in Q1 when he missed out on the two Q2 places by 0.072s to Francesco Bagnaia leaving him in the unfortunate 13th place.

The 40-year-old remains optimistic thanks to setup and electronic breakthroughs with his factory Yamaha after struggling for pace throughout Friday and put down his underwhelming qualifying position to “unlucky” moments as his momentum was stalled by an untimely red flag in FP3 and traffic during his last lap in Q1.

“Today we improved a lot compared to yesterday, yesterday was quite desperate because I was not fast and also I did not feel good,” Rossi said. “Today we improved and in FP3 it was a good practice for me because I had a good pace with the medium tyres, they can be a race choice.

“When I put the first soft on I was good but unfortunately with the second softs I did a mistake, I lost quite a bit, and at that moment I was third so maybe I was a bit too early on track because we stopped for the red flag and we had a different strategy.

“But I did expect, with 37.4s I expected to stay in the top 10 but unfortunately at the end I exited from Q2 by some milliseconds. I think I was a bit unlucky.

“In Q1 on the second lap I had traffic, I had to do some overtakes and it was hard to improve and then Pecco [Bagnaia] put me out of Q2.”

Assessing his own race pace compared to those ahead of him, Rossi believes he can match the majority of his rivals but concedes both Marc Marquez and factory Ducati duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci hold a clear edge.

“I am not fantastic for tomorrow but my pace is not so bad,” he said. “The problem is that we have a lot of different riders and different bikes faster so it is difficult to understand. Our pace is similar and my pace is not so bad.

“I improved the feeling with the front, we need something more, but in general the package we worked more on electronics, on acceleration, on engine braking and today my pace is quite good.

“For me it looks like the first three are a little bit faster in terms of pace, Marquez and the two factory Ducatis, but after the pace of the rest is similar today, but tomorrow is another day. We need to wait to see if we can try something in the warm-up and we’ll try and see what happens in the race.”

Rossi came into the Spanish round bracing for a tough weekend having seen Jerez become a bogey track for him over the past two years after finishing 10th in 2017 and fifth in 2018, while four riders dropped out ahead of him in last year’s race.

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