Valentino Rossi hailed his successful Motorland Aragon test appearance as one of his best days since returning to Yamaha, despite finishing almost a second slower than factory YZR-M1 teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
The Italian was all smiles and full of optimism heading to the next race in Assen after he set a personal best time of 1.49.007 that put him fourth behind Spanish trio Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Front fork modifications to give the nine-times world champion more feeling and confidence from the front-end under braking on his factory YZR-M1 were hailed a resounding success.
Rossi was able to brake hard and enter corners with more confidence and he believes he would have comfortably dropped into the 1.48 bracket had he not had to abort a time attack on soft tyres when rain started to fall in the final hour.
Nothing though could take the gloss off a morale-boosting test for Rossi, who hasn’t finished on the podium since his dazzling fight through the pack from seventh to second in the Qatar night race.
The 34-year-old said: “I'm really happy because it was a good test. Firstly we modified the setting and the front fork and I feel more confident in braking. I can brake deeper and stop the bike in a better way and this is a big improvement.
I also tried the swingarm Lorenzo has, which is a little stiffer and I liked this and we will continue with this. At the end we found a very good package that gave me a very good feeling, especially in braking. That is very important because until today I never had this feeling and I was in trouble.”
Rossi’s strength has always been in the braking zone and corner entry, but unable to find a good set-up since returning to Yamaha and the softer casing front Bridgestone tyre that was introduced last season has negated that advantage.
But today’s tweaks helped Rossi overcome some of the issues with the softer front and he added: “Some movement of the softer tyre remains but with this set-up and fork it is reduced. But I have to find my setting with my team and we still haven't found the best way but today we made a step."
Rossi said he was now excited and intrigued to understand if the set-up tweaks gave him the same positive feeling in Assen next weekend and he told MCN: “I can't wait for Assen to understand if we have improved. I am really excited. We will also try these things in another track and try to understand if the good feeling of today is real.”