Rossi expects to match Stoner in race

Valentino Rossi has played down Casey Stoner's superiority in the Qatar night tests and believes he will be much closer to his main rival when they return to Losail for the season-opener in April

Rossi expects to match Stoner in race

Stoner topped both Monday and Tuesday night's floodlit tests, with world champion Rossi 1.2 seconds slower in third place yesterday evening.

But Rossi reckons he lost more pace than Stoner in the cool temperatures late in the session, which ran until midnight local time, and is confident that Yamaha can match Ducati in the race.

"In the early part of the evening we were fast enough but later on, when it became much colder and the grip went down, we suffered quite a bit," Rossi said.

"I started a long run but in fact I was getting slower and slower, so we didn't finish and concentrated on trying some different things with the setting instead.

"Our position is not so bad; we're third, close to (Jorge) Lorenzo. Stoner is very fast but I am not too worried because we have a good idea about our path for the race and I think that in one month, when it is hopefully a few degrees warmer, we will be okay."

But he admitted that he had relatively low expectations for Qatar, having struggled in last year's race - only qualifying seventh and finishing fifth.

"This is not a great track for me or for the bike and the target for the race will be to be to be better than last year," Rossi said.

"Next we go to Jerez for the final test and I am expecting to be strong there."

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