Austin test vital to judge potential, admits Valentino Rossi

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Valentino Rossi believes next week’s MotoGP test session at the new Circuit of the Americas in Texas will give him a clearer indication of his and Yamaha’s potential for 2013 now he’s back on the competitive factory YZR-M1 machine.

Rossi and factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo will join Repsol Honda duo Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez for a three-day test at the impressive Austin venue between March 12 and 14.

The Austin test is effectively a private showdown between the four title favourites, with LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl the only other rider to be making the trip to Texas that will line-up on the grid for the season opener in Qatar on April 7.

After two tests at the Sepang track in Malaysia,  Rossi finished third and fifth respectively as he gets reacquainted with Yamaha’s YZR-M1 after a torrid two-year stint at Ducati.

Rossi has always been fast and competitive at Sepang and the long and technical Malaysian venue has always been a personal favourite of the 34-year-old.

So he reckons neutral territory like the Circuit of the Americas, which will host its first MotoGP round on April 21, will give him a clearer understanding of his level against Spanish trio Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Marquez.

Lorenzo and Pedrosa have dominated the winter testing schedule so far and the Austin test comes in advance of the final pre-season showdown in Jerez, where Rossi is also confident he will be competitive.

The nine-times world champion told MCN: “Austin is the more difficult test for me because I expect to be competitive in Jerez but Austin we don’t know. In my mind I think I am competitive in Sepang and the M1 is always very fast there. I think and I hope it will be the same story in Jerez, which is a very good track for the M1 and me.

“Austin will be another story because it is a new track. I have never seen it so it will be the most difficult test to understand our performance at a track that is maybe not positive for us. It will be a very important test to understand the level of the bike and the track.”

Rossi also said the Austin test would give him and Lorenzo a good opportunity to understand the performance level of the Honda RC213V on a track where nobody has previously tested on.

Rossi added: “I think they (Honda) are very fast.  I stayed behind Dani for two or three corners (during Sepang test) and in acceleration the Honda is very fast.

“But it is difficult to say the level now and it will very interesting to understand the level of Honda in Austin compared to us.”

Coverage of the Circuit of the Americas test will feature in the March 20 issue of MCN.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt