China MotoGP: Valentino Rossi ‘curious’ ahead of Shanghai showdown
Valentino Rossi reckons he is curious to discover whether his factory Yamaha can mount a sustained victory challenge on a track suited to Bridgestone tyres when he bids to end a seven race losing streak in Shanghai on Sunday.
Rossi is yet to win in three appearances for Bridgestone but his best chance so far may come in Sunday’s 22-lap race, with the Japanese tyre brand claiming two of the top three places a year ago.
Casey Stoner’s victory and John Hopkins’ maiden podium have given Rossi hope that he can win for the first time since last season’s Estoril MotoGP in Portugal.
The 29-year-old Italian, who is poised to commence new contract negotiations with Yamaha in the coming weeks, said: “I’m very confident and curious for this weekend, because on paper this is a good track for Bridgestone.
“So it will be interesting to understand our level on a good track where the surface is a friend of our tyres. Anyway, I think it’s not bad also for Michelin, because last year I did a great race with Casey and I fought to the end, but also this year the M1 is a lot, a lot faster and here it’s so important.
“So theoretically it’s possible to be competitive. But in reality we have to wait for Sunday.”
Rossi said he had got new rear race tyres in his allocation for this weekend based on new spec rubber he tested after his third place in Estoril last month.
The Fiat Yamaha rider is looking for better endurance having faded out of the lead in Qatar and Portugal this season.
Rossi told MCN: “We have something new for tomorrow that worked better than the race tyres in the Monday test in Estoril, especially on drive and grip, so we have to confirm with this type of surface if the feeling is better.”
Rossi confirmed he would start practice tomorrow morning with his YZR-M1 machines featuring a different set-up to help improve rear tyre life.
“Our target now is to go fast and constant in the last ten laps of the race, as that was the problem that we had in Estoril. And we have to improve the setting of the bike to work better on the rear tyre.”