US MotoGP: Valentino Rossi fastest but searching for more

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Valentino Rossi might have made a perfect start in Laguna Seca today, but the Italian was still not totally satisfied despite ending first practice with the quickest time.

Rossi’s best time of 1.21.981 on his last lap ensured he pipped Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo to top spot by just 0.112s.

And with Aussie Casey Stoner just a further 0.077s adrift in third, 30-year-old Rossi believes he’ll need to improve the performance of his YZR-M1 to succeed in his bid for a third straight win on American soil.

 Rossi, who has been in sparkling form recently with wins in Catalunya and Assen taking him to 100 Grand Prix victories, said: “It’s a good start, especially because I am in first position, but also because I already made a good lap time and we started from the settings of last year.

“Already the bike was good and we tried to improve the feeling on the front, trying to use the tyres that are a bit different than last year and it looks better, especially the last run with the harder tyres. But Lorenzo and Stoner are on the same pace, so it will be difficult.

“I expected Stoner to be fast but I thought maybe Lorenzo would need more time because last year he was with Michelin, but he was very strong from the beginning. I think we are more or less on the same level now and for sure we have to improve.” Rossi, who goes into Sunday’s 32-lap holding a five-point lead over Lorenzo, feels his improvement can come in the front-end of his factory Yamaha YZR-M1.

He added: “I need some more feeling on the front, especially going down after the Corkscrew. I’m not strong enough at this moment in that part. And also we have to work on the electronics on the bike, because this bike wants always to wheelie. We need to improve the setting for tomorrow because there are a lot of bumps and jumps on this circuit.”

 With qualifying tomorrow, Rossi won’t need reminding that Laguna Seca is just one of three current circuits where the eight-times world champion has never claimed a pole position. The other two are the Sachsenring and Misano.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt