Valentino Rossi has denied that imminent changes to his factory Ducati GP11 machine suggest he’s trying to make the Desmosedici more like the Yamaha YZR-M1 he rode last season.
Rossi will try a heavily revamped GP11 at a one-day test immediately after next weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril as the Bologna factory attempts to iron out a chronic understeer issue.
The revised bike will feature a new chassis and engine, with a heavier crankshaft as Ducati technical genius Filippo Preziosi tries to give Rossi a much smoother power delivery to help improve his pace.
Rossi has struggled so far on the GP11 and after a disappointing seventh place on his debut in Qatar, he crashed out of the last race in Jerez after a controversial collision he instigated with Repsol Honda rival Casey Stoner.
Since he first rode the Ducati in Valencia last November, Rossi has repeteadly rubbished suggestions that he will try and make the GP11 a more user friendly package to mimmick the smooth power delivery and sweet handling characteristics of the Yamaha YZR-M1 he won the title on back in 2008 and ’09.
And ahead of the Estoril changes, he again said he wasn’t try to turn the Ducati into a Yamaha "No, the Yamaha is too different. The two bikes are opposite as in we are on opposite parts of the world. We can improve the Ducati and adapt it to me, but it will remain always a different bike compared to the M1," said Rossi.
The 32-year-old is hoping the engine changes will help alleviate the understeer issue, which crew chief Jerry Burgess believes is caused by an aggressive power delivery.
Rossi said one focus of the new engine will be to improve his feeling in the first 20 per cent of the throttle opening and he said: “We work very much on this point of view. For me the bigger problem is that in Ducati they always work very much for maximum performance for everything but they don’t work on the details, which for me are very important."
"You need to use some different lines compared to the Yamaha because this bike has some understeer and you have to pick up the bike as soon as possible in acceleration. The M1 was more a rounded package and very agile. The Yamaha remains the best bike in the corners, but maybe with a lack of power compared to Honda.”