Valentino Rossi rejects new Yamaha chassis

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Valentino Rossi will continue to race the ‘standard’ factory Yamaha YZR-M1 frame he’s used in the opening three rounds of 2013 after failing to find any benefit from a new chassis he tested in Jerez yesterday (Monday).

Rossi tested the latest spec 2013 frame during a weather-hit final pre-season test in Jerez in late March, and opted to start the campaign on the chassis he’d used in previous test sessions in Sepang.

Hot and humid conditions in Jerez yesterday gave the 34-year-old the perfect opportunity to carry out a back-to-back assessment of both and he finished fifth quickest in the one-day session.

The nine-times world champion set a best time of 1.39.397 to finish 0.573s behind Marc Marquez, who led the way on the Repsol Honda RC213V.

But he found no improvement with the new frame and for at least the next three races he will persevere on the chassis he’s raced to second, sixth and fourth in the opening three rounds.

He told MCN: “I already try this chassis in the test in March and it was bad conditions but more or less I understand it was the same and I would be continuing with the standard one for the first three races. Today was a good chance to try the new one more deeply in perfect weather and make a direct comparison on the same tyres and at the end there was something better in the front but it was a bit more difficult in acceleration. So we will continue with the standard one that I use already in the first three races. For sure we hope for a bigger step but this is not the case.”

With Repsol Honda claiming a 1-2 finish in Texas and Jerez, both Rossi and Lorenzo have started to put pressure on Japanese technical staff to roll out upgrades for the YZR-M1.

Rossi, who already trails Marquez by 18-points in the world title hunt, added: “We are a bit worried because in the first race we arrive first and second and in Yamaha everybody was happy for the result but it is already two times that Honda arrive in front of us. And especially here (Jerez) where this was a track where we expected to stay closer to the Honda. They have to work but they are doing this.”

When asked by MCN to specifically identify his main current weakness, Rossi said tyre life was crucial and one vital development to help in that area could be a seamless shift gearbox.

Yamaha is under immense pressure from both Lorenzo and Rossi to unveil a seamless shift gearbox to help acceleration stability when upshifting.

Honda has been using the seamless shift system since 2011 and Rossi added: “I think the key is to make the tyres work better so we have to modify the bike to stress the tyres less. For sure the gearbox is an important issue compared to Honda and this helps make a difference. I hope and I think Yamaha works on that but I don't when this arrives. I hope as soon as possible.”

Yamaha technical staff recently confirmed that the seamless shift gearbox is currently under development in Japan, but no time frame of when it could be made available for Lorenzo and Rossi to race has been revealed.

Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis told MCN recently that the seamless shift system was the single most important technical evolution currently being worked on in Iwata and he said: “As a future development that is the big subject that we are working on.”

Asked whether it was an issue of cost or time to develop that had kept Lorenzo and Rossi waiting anxiously for its arrival, Jarvis added: “The main issue is that once you start the development the process is quite long and unfortunately our competitors started two years ahead of us and now we are playing catch-up. You can’t afford to bring the gearbox too early because the worst-case scenario is you can have an incident with a rider, which can be extremely costly for the championship. The fact is the gearbox has to be tested and tested again and reliability is crucial.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt