Front tyre issues cost Monster Yamaha factory rider Valentino Rossi on the opening day of the MotoGP season, leaving the Italian languishing down in seventeenth position after topping the first session of 2019 in Qatar.

The Italian topped the daylight FP1 session from HRC’s Jorge Lorenzo, however, all went pear shaped for ‘The Doctor’ when he failed to crack the top ten, finishing the second session of the day 1.757 seconds off the pace. After the session Rossi suggested that a front tyre issue was the reason behind his disappointing session.

“It was strange. I think in reality I wasn’t as comfortable as I looked in FP1, but not as bad as it looked in FP2,” said the 40-year-old Italian.

“We didn’t change a lot between the two sessions, just a couple of details, but the front tyre was destroyed on the right side after just five laps. I don’t think it was a defective tyre.”

When asked if he was worried about being so far off the pace, Rossi said: “It’s only normal that I am.

“Something strange happened, the conditions didn’t justify such a change.

“In testing nothing like this happened, clearly we made a mistake today. It seems that, to be fast we need to stay on a very narrow path and not deviate.”

With track conditions due to be tougher than those in FP2, Rossi will now face an uphill battle to improve and find himself directly into Q2.

“That’s the biggest problem, it looks like conditions will be worse for FP3,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s impossible to improve tomorrow, but it’ll be very difficult because you have to be very quick to be in the top ten.”