Sepang test: Valentino Rossi confident after 2009 debut

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Valentino Rossi kicked off the defence of his MotoGP crown in 2009 in impressive fashion to finish the first test of the year in Sepang with the second best time.

A best lap of 2.01.137 set in the final hour this afternoon left the Fiat Yamaha rider trailing Ducati rival Casey Stoner by just 0.094s.

Making his first serious outing on the new factory YZR-M1, Rossi declared himself with his second place.

“I am happy and the test for us is positive. The bike is fast and good and I was fast from the beginning, “said Rossi, who only a week ago had doubted whether he’d be fit to ride in Malaysia having needed 12 stitches in his left hand and foot cuts caused when he fell through a plate glass table.

“I am so happy because I was very worried about the injury and this test is important because this year there is not a lot of tests.

“My injuries are getting better each day because they’re only cuts and they’re healing fast. I don’t think that they made much difference to my speed here and by the Qatar test I will be back in perfect shape.

“But I am close to 100 per cent and we finished everything we wanted to do on the bike and the setting and I always stay at the top of the timesheets, “said Rossi, who was never outside of the top three all week.

The 29-year-old scrapped plans to complete a full race simulation because of his injuries, though he did manage a 10-lap run in which he reeled off three laps in the 2.01 bracket.

He told MCN: “We decided just to make 10 laps because 20 was not possible with the pain and my pace was okay. I just wanted to understand something about tyres but it is too early to try the simulation.”

Confident his injuries will have completely healed in time for his next test outing in Qatar on March 1, Rossi said: “Qatar will be interesting, because last year we weren’t strong there, but then last year the bike was not yet ready when we went to the first race in Doha. I am really looking forward to the next test there.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt