JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN, APR 16 - Ducati Marlboro's Valentino Rossi faced a hungry crowd of mostly Italian journalists looking for more of the sort of comments he made after finishing 10th in Qatar. What he said must have disappointed them. His comments were in no way inflammatory, rather they were analytical and hopeful.

"So, first I'm very happy to be in Jerez, because this track is so important for me," he said. "It's very friendly. I did a lot of good results in the past and I like a lot this track. But especially, in the last test before the opening of the season was not so bad, my performance with the Desmosedici and I did some good lap times and especially at the end I finish in sixth position. So was just one month ago and we hope for the weekend from tomorrow to stay with that setting.

"We have a lot of data from work, so we don't start from zero. And this is positive. And I like this track. Like I say, in the test was nothing fantastic but also the lap time was quite good. So this is the target, try to improve the performance and position of Qatar and also we have to wait for the forecast, because they say it's quite bad for the weekend. Usually on the wet, I was quite competitive with Ducati, so if will be wet we will see the potential of this bike under the rain."

Teammate Nicky Hayden also likes Jerez. Hayden hasn't had as much success as Rossi at the track in Andalucia, but he score a podium here in difficult conditions last year. Difficult describes the rest of his season, and off-season, which began prematurely when he was knocked down in the first turn of the Valencia season finale. Now, he said, he was "fit and looking forward to this weekend. Obviously, Qatar didn't go spectacularly. I got beat by quite a lot there. So try not to get too down with it and come here and try to be closer to the front. The team is working really hard. And I think we have some potential there and hopefully get us a good result this weekend would be really nice."

The turnaround could come this weekend on a track that is much different than Qatar and one which Hayden likes.

"Obviously, Qatar is a bit special," he said. "It's the first race, it's a flyaway, it's at night, it's a little strange. But now everybody's here, back in Europe, back under the daylight and a little bit almost like the first race again all over. But I love it here. I mean, I like this track a lot. I wouldn't say it's real tight, but it's not a big open fast track. Definitely have to string some of it together. It flows. But it's got some pretty fast corners, third, fourth gear stuff, and just the atmosphere just here on race day when you come in the stadium is one of the real highlights of MotoGP. It's one of the things that stick in your mind and yeah we'll just talk about it a little bit more and then wait ‘til tomorrow morning when we roll out of the garage and see what we got."

He continued. "Of course, Ducati, they deserve good results. They worked extremely hard with this new bike. and even last week in Mugello, they went to a lot of work to prepare me a bike and a full team to try to make up for some of the tests I missed in Mugello or during the winter - we tried to make up for last week, and again, all we had was rain. So that was pretty way things have went for us at the moment. But hopefully soon we can get it turned around and put a smile on the Ducati fans face, because they certainly deserve it"

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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