Valentino Rossi didn’t expect to arrive at Jerez and be immediately on top of the timesheets, but at the end of the day and after 69 laps he did expect to be a lot closer to the front than in 9th and a massive 1.774 seconds from Casey Stoner and shamefully tailed by a MotoGP rookie and a very impressive Randy de Puniet on a CRT bike. Rossi is lamenting corner entry problems and an uncomfortable riding position (shades of 2011!), while team mate Nicky Hayden was more or less satisfied with his 6th spot, but not with the gap that separates him from the top of the chart.

“After missing the test at Valencia and having to do damage control in Malaysia, where I wasn’t strong, especially at the first test, it was nice to be able to get back on the bike today and feel close to 100 per cent physically,” said Hayden. “I felt good here and I was able to ride all day and finish sixth, which isn’t bad even if the gap is obviously still too big. We got off to a nice start, but we didn’t improve enough, while the guys ahead of us continued to make progress. It’s a little frustrating, although we gathered a lot of data by being able to ride all day without trying a million different things, and we have some good ideas for tomorrow. Of course our goal is to get closer to the leaders, especially with the lap time.”

“We solved some things today, but not one important thing, which is corner entry, especially in the fastest part of the turn,” complained Rossi. “I’m not able to be incisive there, and it’s where most of our gap comes from. I can’t load the front enough to enter fast, so I don’t carry enough speed through the corner, and that’s why we’re far from the front. We found a more promising setting toward the end and I was able to repeat my fast time with a tyre that was very used, but it was already 5:30 and the temperature had dropped, so we decided to start working on it again tomorrow because we think there’s a margin. Nicky went better today, and we also have to reduce the gap.”