MotoGP: Relieved Rossi reassured of Yamaha potential

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Valentino Rossi has admitted that he’s now much more relieved than he was before MotoGP returned to track in Sepang at the first of the official pre-season tests. He’s jumped onto a much-improved Movistar Yamaha machine from the one he last rode at a private test at the Malaysian track, and despite finishing the opening day of action over a second off the pace of leader Casey Stoner is pleased with the team’s progress.

Unhappy first at the traditional end-of-season Valencia test and again when he rode the bike in a private outing at the home of the penultimate round of the championship alongside new teammate Maverick Viñales, the Italian told MCN that the difference between the two bikes is night and day.

“Fortunately, the bike is better. The first day was interesting, the first time we tried the real bikes – my bike, the one that I will use all season. In Japan they’ve worked very hard on the bike, on the engine, on the electronics, and with a slightly different chassis after our comments about the first prototype.

“We never know a lot from Yamaha about what’s coming, but when we saw the new bikes for the first time we were impressed. They did a very good job on all the small particular details. It was a lot better than the first prototype, and a nice surprise!”

Coming with a stronger engine and with better acceleration and corner exit, somewhere the Yamaha has lost out in recent years, the Yamaha engineers have more importantly managed to deliver the increased power in a friendlier way, to correct something that Rossi admits was one of their major downfalls last year.

“Our biggest problem last year was that we stressed the rear tyre too much, and we worked a lot on that. But now we have some interesting things to work on!”

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer