Valentino Rossi unlikely to race new chassis in Qatar

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Valentino Rossi is unlikely to race a new factory Yamaha YZR-M1 chassis in the season’s opening MotoGP round in Qatar next weekend.

The Italian managed to evaluate the new frame at the end of the final pre-season test in Jerez yesterday (Monday), albeit in far from ideal conditions to make an accurate judgement on its potential.

Heavy mid-morning rain meant the track didn’t dry out until only 90 minutes of the session remained and even then a strong wind and constantly changing grip levels hardly made it ideal for testing major components like a new YZR-M1 frame.

Rossi set a best time of 1.39.735 on the revised chassis that put him second behind British rider Cal Crutchlow.

That time was slightly slower than his best lap on a rain-hit second day when he led the leaderboard with a 1.39.525.

Crutchlow just bettered that time on the final day by 0.014s to deny the 34-year-old top spot on the combined timesheets.

Rossi said the new chassis had good and bad points but he told MCN: “For me it had a little better stability but I lose something on the entry. It is a question mark but I think I will use the standard one for the first race and try the new one another time when we have a real test.”

The Jerez test might have been badly disrupted by the weather with each day not escaping the rain, but it was still Rossi’s highest finish of the pre-season since he returned to Yamaha’s factory squad.

Rossi, who won 46 races in a seven-year career with Yamaha between 2004 and ’10, added: “I am so happy at the end because we had quite good conditions to make some laps in the dry because for us it was very important to try the new chassis. The feeling in general is good because I was competitive also in difficult conditions and I was fast with the used tyre. It was a good test and I was competitive, so I think we can be competitive also for the first race in Qatar. Qatar for me is not so bad but nothing special. I was able to win in the past but it is not my track. I expect to be more competitive in Jerez than Qatar but you never know.”

For four pages of coverage from the Jerez test, an exclusive Marc Marquez interview and special preview to the new British Superbike campaign, see the March 27 issue of Motor Cycle News.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt