Valentino Rossi's miserable run continued during MotoGP qualifying in Portimao, where the Petronas Yamaha star was left just 17th on the grid.

After the high of qualifying fourth in Qatar, the Italian dropped to 12th in the season-opening race. The rear grip problems continued with a career-worse 21st in qualifying at the following Doha weekend, where he was left 16th and outside of the points by the chequered flag.

The situation is marginally better in Portimao, but the 'worried' nine-time world champion knows he is facing another tough race unless a last minute breakthrough can be found.

"The result is quite bad," said Rossi, who didn't progress beyond Qualifying 1 at Portimao. "Today we worked, we improved also the pace, but it was not enough.

"I still have some problems, especially in acceleration, I have a lack of grip on the edge, so we need to try something else.

"In FP4 I was quite constant but my pace is not fantastic so it will be difficult.

"Compared to the second race in Qatar I am a bit better, but anyway I'm not in the top group. I'm a bit faster compared to last year during the practice, but it's not enough to fight for the good positions.

"So for sure tomorrow will be hard, starting from behind and my pace is nothing fantastic, but for the warm-up we can try something else and we hope to be a bit faster."

But with the other Factory-Spec M1s of Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales, which won a race each in Qatar, again among the pre-race favourites in Portimao, The Doctor admitted he expected more.

"The two bikes of the factory team with Quartararo and Vinales are stronger than me, they are faster, so I'm worried especially because I expect and I want to be more competitive," he said.

"But the only way is to continue to work and try step-by-step to improve."

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli, riding the A-spec M1, will start from fifth on the grid.



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