Valentino Rossi has admitted that he expected more from Saturday’s MotoGP qualifying session at Motegi, where he was only able to set the tenth fastest time.

On another strong day for Yamaha, in which three of the top four positions were occupied by M1s, 40-year old Rossi was further adrift and never in the reckoning for the leading positions.

During a weekend when he is working on a new braking technique with his right hand on the front brake lever, Rossi said he is “not fantastic” in that area.

But he was far from without hope; the nine-time world champion believes the grid is “very close” in terms of pace, and believes Sunday’s dry forecast should play into his hands.

"We tried something a little bit different to improve the braking,” Rossi said, referencing his altered front brake technique. “It is a difficult job but we try. Today, I'm not fantastic in braking, but apart from that in general for the setting, we are all very close.

“I expect more from the qualifying. Try to start a bit better, because in FP4 I was not so bad. But it's like this. We wait for tomorrow, for the conditions, because it looks like it will be completely dry.

“Yesterday in the dry my pace was not-so-bad, but we need for sure to work and improve."’

Rossi was fifth fastest at the end of Friday’s dry running and described the rest of the field’s pace as “very, very close.”

Sunday’s warm-up session will be essential in determining whether he has the necessary speed to mount a comeback from the fourth row, he said.

"We are very, very close and the pace yesterday in the dry was good. Today was quite dry but difficult conditions for everybody. So we need to understand if we can improve a little bit tomorrow and I have enough pace to recover."

 

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