Valentino Rossi hailed the effects of Saturday morning changes to his Ducati's front end as he qualified sixth for the Czech Grand Prix, his best placing in 2011.
Having been encouraged by his pace on Friday, Rossi and Ducati made another step forward in qualifying, with the Italian reporting an increased feel and confidence as a result of the team's changes. The improvement was evident in Rossi's qualifying form – he finished less than 0.8sec off polesitter Dani Pedrosa – and in his upbeat assessment of his prospects at the Masaryk circuit.
"We start on the second row for the first time with Ducati, so we are quite positive," Rossi enthused. "We made modifications this morning on the front and especially on the rider position, and I like it. I am in a better position and the bike has better feeling and agility, so we have made a step.
"I have a better feeling too and I can ride more on the limit. When I brake I feel more what happens on the front tire and I can force the entry more, which allows me to enter faster and on a better line. We have improved some of our problems; we are still not competitive for a win, but we have closed."
Rossi admitted there was still work to be done, but said today's changes had given him and Ducati a clearer picture of what to try.
"We still need to work for tomorrow –- we need better rear grip and a better change of direct of direction," he added, "but we have ideas to try. "We are not so far from pole, seven-tenths on a long track. If we fix the problem we can fight tomorrow, and maybe we can make a good race."