SATURDAY 9TH JULY 2005
Reigning world champion and runaway 2005 world championship leader Valentino Rossi was left in an uncharacteristic ninth place at the end of day one at the US GP, having failed to improve in the afternoon session.
The Italian superstar would later reveal that he had been struggling to adapt to the 'old style' layout of the Laguna Seca circuit - presumably meaning how to attack the narrow, bumpy asphalt with its many ups and downs, but reduced run-off - and wasn't riding at the limit.
"This is an 'old style' track and to be honest I think maybe our bike is a little too fast for it, so today I haven't been able to push to the limit," said Rossi, who lapped 0.74secs slower than pace setter Nicky Hayden. "It is hard to find the right set-up in these circumstances and at the moment we still have a lot work to do. We need more time on the track and more kilometres with the bike to find out where we can push harder, make up some time and be stronger."
Rossi's comments seemed to suggest that safety concerns were preventing him from riding at his M1's full potential - and the #46 would admit that he, like many others, is worried about safety at certain areas of the spectacular race track.
"I am a little concerned about the safety of the track and today we will have a meeting with the other riders to discuss it," said Valentino. "Anyway, I have enjoyed riding at Laguna Seca, especially the Corkscrew, because in the past I have only seen it on the television. The big crowds here show that MotoGP should be in America, but we also need to make sure it is safe."
Rossi's Factory Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards was sixth fastest. The top six riders today - Hayden, Bayliss, Biaggi, Barros, Hopkins and Edwards - had all ridden at Laguna Seca before.