Valentino Rossi says he is feeling more optimistic about Ducati's chances after the first day of testing in Qatar, despite only being eighth on the time sheets.
The former MotoGP champion had a minor crash early yesterday and was 0.7sec behind pacesetter Dani Pedrosa, as Honda continued to lead the way. But Rossi insisted that Ducati was in better shape at Losail than it had been in the previous tests in Malaysia.
"It's not so bad because I have quite a good feeling with the bike and the bike is better at this track," he said. "I can ride in a better way. We have quite good pace, we are not so far [off]. We are just in eighth position so for sure we have to improve the maximum performance. But we have some ideas, some modifications to try tomorrow."
He admitted that Monday's test would be critical, with the season getting under way with the Qatar Grand Prix at the end of this week. But he remained optimistic that there was now little to choose between Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
"For sure tomorrow will be an important day because the race is just next week," Rossi said. "We have to try to do better. But I'm happier than in Sepang because we are just seven tenths behind. Everybody is very close."