Rossi rattles rivals in first Yamaha test

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Defending world MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi looks like making it business as usual in this year’s title race, despite his move from the all-conquering Honda to a struggling Yamaha.

He completed 59 laps on his third and final day of testing at Sepang, Malaysia on Monday with a best time of 2:02.7 – just .2s behind Max Biaggi’s best at the same circuit last week. The Yamaha achieved only one podium finish all last year.

Rossi’s time – on a bike he had never ridden before this test – was equal to Sete Gibernau’s. Both Gibernau and Biaggi were riding Hondas of the same spec as the one Rossi won the title on last season. Rossi was on a 2003 spec Yamaha M1.

Despite talking down his championship chances last week, it seems the young Italian is feeling more bullish after getting to grips with his new four-stroke.

After testing the bike Rossi exclaimed: ” We did some good work. The time we made was good for a first test, but tyres and chassis settings were the main aim here. I’ve really enjoyed my first three days with Yamaha, I’m very happy. There’s still work to do on the engine and we’ll carry on with that, but overall things have been good.”

There’s a full and exclusive report on the test from our man in Malaysia, Matthew Birt, in MCN, out on January 28.

Rossi’s Gauloise Yamaha team-mate Carlos Checa put in a massive 88-laps of endurance testing to finish the session with a best time of 2:03.7.

Fortuna Gauloises rider Marco Melandri rode 52 laps and put in a best time of 2:05.5, while his team-mate Norick Abe rode 52 laps to finish on 2:05.05.

Anyone prepared to back against Rossi now? Have your say in our discussion boards. See the link, right. See our GP Section for more from the tests or click the link on the right to read the full Yamaha Racing press release.

Time to chop in the Honda and buy a Yamaha? Check out our SELL YOUR BIKE section for a faster way to place your ads.

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff