Valentino Rossi has put his mediocre position in Friday’s practice sessions for the Italian Grand Prix down to a lack of grip on the harder rear tyre.
In front of his home fans at Mugello, Rossi was sixth quickest in the opening morning session, before slipping to ninth in the afternoon, seven tenths off the pace set by Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and almost four tenths shy of Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
The 36-year-old explained afterwards that the reason for his lacklustre showing was his difficulties using the hard compound rear Bridgestone tyre, which he sampled late on in the session while most other riders were improving their lap times on the medium tyre.
“We started the afternoon practice well, said Rossi. “I didn‘t feel so bad with the bike and I had quite a good pace.
“I was quite happy, but I had some problems under braking. We tried to modify the setting so I could brake harder, but we didn‘t find a good solution and at the end I came back out on my normal bike and decided to try the harder tyre on the front and rear.
“The front wasn‘t so bad, but the rear was a bit too hard and I didn‘t have enough grip on the left side for me to push to the maximum.”
Too soon to know the man to beat
Though Rossi highlighted the strong pace shown by Lorenzo during the session, he believes it is too soon to know who will be the rider to beat at Mugello.
“It looks like Jorge had the best pace,” he added, “but Dovi is also fast and so is Marquez.
“It‘s only Friday, so it‘s too early to say who will be the hardest to beat, but they seem to be in good shape.”