Valentino Rossi has ruled out the prospect of winning the first MotoGP race to be staged in Texas after the Italian finished a tough opening day of practice at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) almost two seconds of the pace.
Rossi set a best time of 2.06.868 to finish fifth on the combined timesheets but his pace was a massive 1.837s behind dominant Marc Marquez, who was quickest again after heading a private Yamaha and Honda test in Austin last month.
Rossi echoed the complaints of factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo in that the YZR-M1 simply doesn’t have the same grip as the rival Honda RC213V.
The 34-year-old, who made a stunning return to Yamaha in Qatar earlier this month by taking second place behind Lorenzo, said: “The track does not have very good grip and I hope that will improve for Sunday and we can go faster. We suffer very much with rear grip and we have a lot of movement on entry and on acceleration. I think it is something from the tarmac that is not enough grip. I hope with more rubber and the track being cleaner with more bikes it will be better.
The problem is the gap to the Honda, especially Marquez and then (Dani) Pedrosa and (Stefan) Bradl, they were faster than us clearly. We will try to modify the weight distribution for without losing the front feeling and put more rubber on the road to create better rear grip."
Asked if he had any chance of winning Sunday’s 21-lap race, Rossi replied: “Win? No, no, no. It will be very difficult even for the podium. But we will try."