MotoGP Jerez Test: Valentino Rossi happy with Bridgestone progress

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Valentino Rossi posted the second fastest time in Jerez today as he continued his impressive switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres.

The factory Yamaha rider clocked a best of 1.40.134 on a soft Bridgestone qualifying tyre that he tried for the first time this afternoon.

The Italian tried two soft rear tyres with his first lap a 1.40.743. On his second qualifier he posted a 1.40.134, which was his best time on the day. His best was still 0.7s off his qualifying time set on Michelin rubber at the Spanish GP last March.

Fastest rider today was Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, who posted a best of 1.39.993 using a Michelin qualifier, which was 0.5s slower than he managed when setting pole in his home race earlier this year.

Rossi’s best time on race tyres today saw him clock a 1.40.883 on his 25th lap, though it was the only sub 1.41 lap he managed in race trim.

That was 0.3s slower than his best lap set on his first ride on Bridgestone’s yesterday, though he continued to ride on the Japanese factory’s 2007 spec rubber today.

Rossi will begin evaluating some of the latest generation spec Bridgestone tyres tomorrow and he told MCN: “Today was not so bad. We worked more on consistency and tried to make a longer run and I think already we have good consistency, but we need a little bit more performance. I am consistent more or less at the same lap time of the race, also for 30 laps with a used tyre. But I think it is possible to go faster. Bridgestone brought quite soft rubber because they expected colder conditions, but for me they are a little bit too soft. I think with something harder we can improve by two or three tenths a lap. But I’m happy because I ride well and I have fun. Tomorrow we start to try something new. We started to work using just 2007 tyres. But we are ready to start the development.”

Rossi said he expected some of the new tyres he will debut tomorrow will have a stronger construction to suit his style more, but he said Bridgestone needed to improve its soft qualifying tyre.

“I tried qualifying tyres because I think Michelin is a little bit better. I had a good feeling with the qualifying tyre and its possible to go a little bit faster because I rode safely because I don’t know exactly the limit of the tyre. We have to improve a little bit because Michelin was fantastic on qualifying, but anyway the feeling is not bad, “added the 28-year-old, who continued to be hampered by the broken right hand he suffered in a qualifying crash earlier this month at the season’s final race in Valencia.

He added: “It is more or less the same as yesterday. I suffered a lot yesterday but when it gets hotter it gets better. It is not worse than yesterday and this is positive. I am not at the maximum though and sometimes it is difficult to release the brake and open the throttle in the same movement. Sometimes I have to release the brake and then open the throttle.”

Tomorrow is the last day of track action in 2007, with the seven-week testing ban starting on December 1. Preparations for 2008 begin on January 22 in Malaysia, where Rossi is scheduled to ride the new factory YZR-M1 for the first time.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt