Valentino Rossi believes he made a breakthrough with his Yamaha in Friday practice at Le Mans and should be more competitive than in his last two races.
The seven-time MotoGP champion has not been on the podium since his first race back with Yamaha in Qatar. But he outpaced teammate Jorge Lorenzo to take third on day one in France.
"I'm very happy about today. Already this morning my speed was good but especially this afternoon we worked well," Rossi told the official MotoGP website. "The last run was the best: I did my best lap and the rhythm was also quite good. I'm third but I'm very, very close to the top position."
The Italian said the issues that had hampered him at Austin and Jerez were much improved by the setup changes.
"I could brake hard, which was the main problem in Austin and also in Jerez, so it's a good day," Rossi said. "We try to also modify the rear to not stress the rear tire so much. That helped me a lot; I did my best laps with a used tire that had more than 30 laps on."
Although Rossi took a podium finish at Le Mans for Ducati last year in a wet race, he said he would prefer a dry grand prix.
"I hope for a dry race because I think that with the Yamaha we can be more competitive in the dry," he said.
Rossi's teammate Lorenzo was less upbeat, saying he had plenty of scope to find more speed.
"We are changing the bike to improve the feeling because at the moment we have a lot of margin for improvement," said the Spaniard. "I think we can make a big step to improve the constant pace for the race."