Rossi sets sights on row two start

autosport.com

Sat, 07 Apr 00:00:08 2012

Valentino Rossi is aiming for a top six qualifying position for the Qatar Grand Prix - despite languishing near the foot of the top 10 in practice.

Eighth place in Friday's final session was Ducati rider Rossi's best result of the event so far, but he said he had made more progress than the timesheets suggested.

"Today went pretty well, and I'd say that the last session was the best," said Rossi. "The position is nothing fantastic, but on the positive side, I'm very consistent with the hard tyre.

"The front of the bike is giving more feedback, so I can push more, which is very important, and the bike is very fast at the end of the straight. The understeer is still there, but now I think we have a place from which to work.

"We hope to improve two or three small things with the setting for tomorrow, and we'll try to qualify on the second row."

Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden had started the weekend with an encouraging third place in Thursday practice, but was only seventh in Friday's two sessions. Hayden said his bike had developing a chatter problem as track conditions changed.

"As the track is cleaning up, we're getting more grip, but in a way that's hurting us since I'm also getting more chatter," he explained. "When that happens, I can't keep my lean angle, and I run wide, especially in the flat corners.

"We tried some different springs but haven't found the right solution yet. Chatter is so strange and inconsistent sometimes, but we'll have a look at the data and do our best to sort it out."

Hayden reckons that despite its problems, Ducati's straightline speed will keep it in contention in the race.

"My pace isn't great, but although I'm not thrilled with how the day went, the bike is certainly doing well on top speed, which is going to be important in the race," he said.

 

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