PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA, OCT 15 - Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi joined the chorus of riders who found Friday's weather at Phillip Island deplorable and made more so by a delay in the start of practice.The always unpredictable island weather was at its worst today. Heavy rains overnight had flooded the track, delaying the start of practice by two hours. The delay pushed the start of practice from 1:50 to 3:50 p.m. and by then air temperature was 50F. And a biting wind blowing off the Bass Straits made conditions seem Arctic. The gusting winds weren't consistent, which made riding that much more difficult. The winds also dried the racing line as the session progressed, which greatly reduced the life of the treaded wet Bridgestone rain tires."It is very difficult because the conditions mean we are very close to the limit," Rossi said after qualifying seventh fastest and 1.480 secs. slower than session-leading teammate Jorge Lorenzo. "The water is okay, but the main problem is the temperature. It was a good idea to make the practice, because they cleaned the track very well and also because it looks like the condition will continue like this for the weekend, so we needed some experience."It was a bad practice for me because I wasn't fast enough. We started with the wrong setting and I needed too many laps to arrive at a good pace. We tried some modifications, but at the end the conditions became very difficult. It started to dry and the wet tires were getting destroyed. If it is this temperature though, maybe it is better that we have rain because with dry tyres that we have, with ten degrees I don't know how we can manage this. It will be very dangerous for the race. If it is dry we need a minimum of 61 or 65 degrees for the tires. With 50 in the dry, the rubber is so strong and I don't know it will put temperature in the tires. We have to wait, and it looks like tomorrow is bad conditions again so we have the chance to make some more laps on the wet and make a good setting."Equally troubling to Rossi was his still mending right shoulder. The shoulder had endured two GP's the previous two weeks and three in a row was proving problematic."I have some pain with the shoulder," he said. "It looks like it is a bit tired and I feel pain when I ride the bike a little bit. I think I'm paying now for three races in a row, but with a good setting I can be stronger than this result." He added, "I suffer more pain with the cold."As with all riders, the idea of moving the date appealed to Rossi."We go now to the Safety Commission, but it is three or four years that we want Phillip Island at the beginning of the season," he said, "but they say the problem is Formula One."From our side we have pushed hard every year. But we need a very bad situation like today to maybe push even harder."

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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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