Valentino Rossi says adjustments to his Ducati's electronics made a key difference as he showed better form in today's practice sessions at Jerez. After finishing seventh in the Qatar season opener, the former champion was third and fifth in Spain today.
"It's a good day for us, especially because we improved our position. Third and fifth is an improvement compared to Qatar and I'm quite happy – this morning more than this afternoon," Rossi said. "We have to try and improve for tomorrow because in Qatar we started quite well and we were not able to improve. But I like this track and I prefer the Ducati here at Jerez compared to Qatar, so I'm happy. I have better grip and the bike is easier to ride compared to Qatar."
Rossi said Ducati had not brought any updates yet, but had tweaked its electronics to suit his style.
"We made improvements in some systems – we started to work with the electronics, I gave some advice on what I like from the bike when I open the throttle," he said. "We've improved it a lot. But the hardware of the bike is exactly the same. And also this track is better for me, I like it more than Qatar."
He denied that he was attempting to make the Ducati's behavior mirror the Yamahas he has used for the past seven seasons.
"We could improve the Ducati or adapt it more to me. I say improve it," Rossi said.
The Italian believes a podium is a realistic aim for Jerez, as he thinks Honda's practice pacesetters Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner are out of reach. He also reckons his physical condition has improved since Qatar, and though his still-healing shoulder is not in peak form, Rossi does not expect his pace to fade so much this weekend.
"The two Hondas are quite far from the rest, but from third we are not so far," said Rossi. "So we can fight for a podium position and this is our target. Unfortunately, the power is not enough but it looks like the resistance has improved so this is very important for Sunday and the race – I'm losing less power lap by lap."