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April 7th, 2012
Valentino Rossi said he and Ducati took a step backwards in Qatar Grand Prix qualifying, as he ended the session slowest among the MotoGP prototype riders.
Despite lacking pace in practice, Rossi had still been optimistic that he could qualify on row two. Instead he will start from 12th – ahead of only the CRT runners, and 1.2 seconds slower than his team-mate Nicky Hayden.
“Yesterday was nothing fantastic but a lot better, especially with the used tyre, so my goal was to qualify on the second row,” Rossi said. “I’m very far from that target though, as the problems that we had before were worse.
“It’s very strange because we only made some small changes from yesterday, but the feeling was very different. After that we returned to yesterday’s setting and I went a little bit faster, but it wasn’t enough to significantly improve the result.”
Rossi conceded he will have to try and learn from Hayden’s settings after seeing the American qualify fifth.
“I’m not sure what to expect for the race, but obviously, I hope to do better,” said the seven-time MotoGP champion. “Nicky made a different set-up choice than ours and did a good session with both tyres, so now we’ll also look at his data and try to do better.”
Hayden is unsure whether he can maintain his qualifying pace in race trim given potential tyre wear – but pledged to do his utmost to mix it with the leaders.
“Tyre life is going to be important, and since we’re using up the tyre a lot, we need to work on that,” he said. “I still struggled a bit with chatter and understeer, especially in the fourth sector, where the corners are flat, but the GP12 is certainly the fastest Ducati I’ve ever ridden, which could come in handy in the race.
“I think it will be a hard race, but I’m really looking forward to it. There’s a big gap to the top two, but we’ll try our best to get a good start, get into that second group and fight like dogs to hold on.
“Hopefully we can leave here with something positive.”