Valentino Rossi ended his first day as a factory Ducati rider down in tenth position on the timesheets at the Valencia circuit in Spain today.
The Italian took to the track shortly before 1230pm after rain delayed track action by nearly two hours at the first winter test for the 2011 world championship.
Rossi’s debut was greeted by a media frenzy with dozens of press and TV crews capturing the hugely anticipated moment when he first left the factory Ducati garage.
Rossi began his Ducati career by testing the Big Bang version of the GP11 though he did complete one short stint on the new more powerful Screamer version.
The nine-times world champion set a best time of 1.33.882 in a 56-lap stint to finish 1.870s behind former factory Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
Sporting the number one plate on his factory YZR-M1 machine, the Spaniard dominated the opening day of the pre-season with a best time of 1.32.012. That was nearly a second faster than Dani Pedrosa’s fastest lap in Sunday’s Valencia GP.
Rossi was just less than a second away from his fastest lap in the 30-lap race when he finished third in his final appearance for Yamaha.
With Yamaha banning Rossi from making any public comment about his debut, it was left to Ducati’s technical guru Filippo Preziosi to shed some light on a first ride that attracted a bigger crowd than attends the season first race in Qatar.
He said: “The most surprising thing for me was the way he described the bike, how calm he is and that is something I had read about but when it happened it was really strange. And his attitude is positive, he found the good things in the bike and explained why the bad things are not working.
"This was something I was not expecting. Valentino worked mainly on the GP11 Big Bang version, working on some set-up issues and just one exit with the Screamer GP11. His comments are still to be confirmed because it was just one exit with the Screamer bu it was we expected. There is more power but more difficult to manage, so tomorrow we will look at that again."