Rossi 1.2 seconds down on Biaggi

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These are the first pictures of Valentino Rossi as he takes his debut ride on the Yamaha YZF-M1. The 2003 world champion has just finished his first day of testing on the new bike and ended the session 1.2 seconds down on Honda rival Max Biaggi.

Rossi put in a gruelling 58 laps on the Yamaha to clock a best lap time of 2:03.80. That puts him 0.2 seconds inside his own best lap from 2003, but 1.2 seconds down on the best lap set by top Honda rider Max Biaggi when he was at the circuit earlier this week.

Rossi was very happy with both the new bike and his performance. Saying that the whole experience had been much better than he had expected considering it's been two months since he last rode a MotoGP bike.

Rossi said: "It was a strange feeling when I got on the bike, like we were starting from zero. It was very emotional. I was expecting the bike to have more problems, but at this stage it has been not so bad.

The Italian went on to say that he is settling in on the bike already: "I didn't really know what to expect but it has got good points and bad points. For sure there is a lot of work to do, but I like to ride the bike already. It is very important in the next three days just to get as much information as possible to the engineers so they can develop the bike for the future."

Despite being so far behind Biaggi, Rossi's times are encouraging for Yamaha. The best time for a Yamaha at the track in 2003 was set by Carlos Checa at 2:04.19 and Rossi has already shattered that by almost four tenths of a second.

Checa, now Rossi's Gauloise Yamaha team-mate, put in 53 laps at the circuit to clock a best time of 2:04.10 while Fortuna Yamaha riders Norick Abe and Marco Melandri ended the session on 2:05.84 (50 laps) and 2:05.40 (48 laps) respectively.

Check back on Sunday for the latest on Rossi's Yamaha debut.

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MCN Staff

By MCN Staff