Valentino Rossi is confident that he will swiftly move forward from his ninth place on the French Grand Prix grid in tomorrow's race, as he believes he has made much more progress with the Ducati than the results suggest.
The Italian reckons that both the works and Tech 3 Yamahas are able to take a greater step forward than Ducati in qualifying, and that this is leaving Rossi and his team-mate Nicky Hayden artificially low in the starting order. The pair will start from ninth and 10th tomorrow, behind the four factory-spec Hondas and four Yamahas.
"The position is very bad for sure, but we've increased our performance and I can ride the bike in a better way," Rossi said. "So I'm quite happy actually because we fixed a lot of problems from yesterday and this morning.
"The problem for my position is also that with the softer tire on a qualification lap, the Yamahas can improve the lap time more than us, so I have [Cal] Crutchlow, Colin [Edwards] and [Ben] Spies also in front and during practice they were behind. So I have to start from ninth place, but we are not so far [off the pace]."
Rossi believes he can race with the Yamahas tomorrow, but expects Honda to dominate the event.
"Realistically, the Hondas are too fast not just for me, but in general for everybody," he said. "[Jorge] Lorenzo is the fastest man without the Honda, but we are not so far [away] so if we are able to make a good race tomorrow we can get a better position than today."
But he added that he still needed to make further progress in the warm-up, and that his ongoing shoulder issue was likely to hamper him towards the end of the race.
"I still have to fix some problems tomorrow and for sure at the end of the race I'll have to resist because this racetrack is very difficult for the shoulder so I'll lose some power, so I have to keep pushing and try to have a good pace – try to be in 1m34s for all the race," said Rossi.