Valentino Rossi has ruled out a shot at a podium finish in the German Grand Prix, but reckons fourth is achievable for his first race back after breaking his leg.
The world champion qualified fifth at the Sachsenring, and has been within range of the front runners all weekend - as he returned to the track following an absence of only six weeks since his Mugello crash.
Rossi felt he could have qualified fourth so is aiming for that result in the race, although he believes Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa are out of reach for this weekend.
"I'm happy, fifth place is OK. Unfortunately we tried a small modification at the end to improve the lap time that was worse, so I think if all is OK I could have made fourth place," said Rossi. "But to go into 1m21s like Pedrosa, Stoner and Lorenzo is too difficult. For tomorrow I think it will be very difficult for me to finish on the podium, but maybe just after the podium is possible."
He admitted that doing both practice and qualifying today had been challenging in his condition, but was confident race day would be easier.
"After this morning I had some pain, so this afternoon I had to suffer a bit," said Rossi. "But tomorrow the warm-up is just 10 laps maximum, so I'll be ready for the race and we'll try to do 30 laps in a row without losing too much time. I think with a night between, it's not a big problem. The pain does increase day by day. It's more a problem today as I had to do two hours [on track] within five hours."
Rossi explained that there were still specific movements that caused him discomfort.
"The biggest problem is when I twist the ankle and the knee when I change direction, especially from right to left, and I have to move my body and twist a little bit. Then I have pain," he said. "The second problem is that on right-hand corners, after braking, when I have to move my foot backwards on the footpeg, I have pain in the muscle inside the knee."