Valentino Rossi happy with 2009 Yamaha debut

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Valentino Rossi declared himself happy with his debut on Yamaha’s new 2009 prototype YZR-M1 machine in Valencia yesterday.

The Italian ended the opening day on 2009 testing with the third fastest time, the 29-year-old clocking a best lap of 1.32.921 to finish just 0.457s adrift of Casey Stoner.

The test was Rossi’s first chance to evaluate the new M1, which he had been pencilled in to ride the day after clinching his eighth world title at the Japanese GP in September.

Rossi completed 28 laps on the new bike, as he didn’t even take to the track until mid-afternoon, with Rossi celebrating his record-breaking season until the early hours of Monday morning.

He said: “I was able to try the new bike for the first time. It is only the first prototype but my impression of it is very good and it seems they have done a good job. We are working on the engine in order to have more acceleration on the exit from the corner and there is a small change, not enough yet but in the right direction so this is important.

“We worked on the setting and the weight distribution and I was faster with the new bike so this is good!  We need more time to understand the bike and more laps but this is only the first day and it is very positive.”

Rossi said his biggest surprise of the day was the performance of the new Bridgestone ‘controlled’ tyres. The tyres made available on the opening day were some of the specs that will form part of the allocation for the single tyre rule in 2009.

Rossi was marginally faster than his best time in finishing third in Sunday’s Valencia GP and he said: “The other ‘big’ thing of course is the new tyres and I am really happily surprised. This is not the best track to try them at as we don’t have so much data for here but anyway they feel very good.

“I was expecting less grip but we had a lot and everyone was fast today. The track conditions are a lot better than they were during the weekend so this makes a difference, but anyway we can already see that they are quite good.

“I think Bridgestone have done a good job but of course it will be hard to know for sure until we have been to some different tracks. We have to wait and see. For me they feel good even in comparison with my Bridgestone tyres from all of the season so I am happy so far.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt