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Rossi targets sliding issue after practice

Rossi targets sliding issue after practice

The reigning World Champion expected to go faster in the opening session in Qatar after placing third quickest, and has identified a grip problem to work on.

Defending World Champion Rossi’s pace in the first practice session of the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar left the Italian feeling there is more work to be done ahead of the opening race of the season on Sunday.

Rossi’s time of 1’56.028 placed him just two-thousandths of a second behind Fiat Yamaha team-mate and rival Jorge Lorenzo, but at over half a second off the session’s quickest Casey Stoner the nine time World Champion has immediately targeted an improvement.

"Honestly I expected to be faster today - the lap time is not bad but it could be better,” said the 31 year-old. “The conditions are much better than during the test, it's warmer and a lot less humid so I'm happy about that, but we don't have enough grip and I was sliding quite a lot so we need to try to find a way to improve this.”

Rossi is confident the required improvement can be found over the remainder of the weekend, before he starts his title defence on board his M1 prototype on Sunday.

He added: “Stoner is always very fast here and I hope we can close the gap to him by making some small changes to our suspension. If we can stop the bike sliding then we will be a lot faster."

Commenting on his team-mate Lorenzo’s display, Rossi explained that he was not surprised by the Spaniard’s speed despite the hand injury that has affected his pre-season.

Rossi said: “As I imagined he is okay, because three weeks ago at the Test he rode well and was very strong, so he is already at 100%. Jorge is close and two-thousandths of a second does not change things much.”

MotoGP, 2010, COMMERCIALBANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

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