Rossi explains qualifying woes.
Camel Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards face an uphill battle in the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship tomorrow after vibration problems returned in this afternoon's qualifying practice at Jerez.
After making progress with his YZR-M1 machine in yesterday's free practice, Rossi's cause was not helped by an incident early in today's session, when he became the first of five riders to end up in the gravel after oil was spilled on the track by d'Antin Ducati's Alex Hofmann.
The red flags were duly raised, but when the pit-lane reopened Rossi's fortunes barely improved as the Italian limped to an eventual ninth on the grid, having lapped over one-second slower than pole sitter Loris Capirossi.
"I thought we had solved a lot of the problems yesterday but today they came back," confirmed Rossi. "The bike is still vibrating and with the qualifying tyre the problem became worse because the extra grip on the rear pushed the front even harder. Basically we are losing time in every part of the corner.
"Also the crash at the start of the session didn't help but we can't use that as an excuse," he added. "I have won the first race of the season every year since 2001 but it is going to be difficult tomorrow. I have always found that it helps to start the season with a win so I will still be going for it!"
Team-mate Edwards may have avoided the first lap oil, but he too struck bad luck when he suffered a puncture to his rear tyre. The American was only able to qualify tenth fastest, one place behind his Italian team-mate.
"I suppose you could say we are up the creek but the important day is tomorrow so we still have a paddle!" said Edwards. "Just when we thought we had the problem sorted out it has come creeping back. We've had three days of tests here and now two days this weekend but we just can't get on top of it. The vibration in the corners comes in at a certain speed so the effect is like having a speed limiter on the bike.
"To make things worse I had a puncture in my first qualifying tyre so we lost time at the end of the session too. Things don't look to be going too well for us at the moment but we'll try to pull a rabbit out of the hat tomorrow," he declared.
"It has been a strange weekend because yesterday we lost a whole session because of the weather and then today we had another setback when Valentino crashed on the oil left by Alex Hofmann's bike," mused team director Davide Brivio. "It didn't help because we had some solutions we wanted to try on that bike. It seems things are conspiring to make life difficult for us but we won't give up.
"It is clearly not a good situation with regard to the starting grid but the pace of the front riders is not too far from our own. If we can make some slight improvements in the morning then I think we will be in the right shape for a good race."