Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi says he’s out to make amends for a disastrous start to the 2018 MotoGP season when the championship heads to Silverstone this weekend. One of his favourite circuits and arguably the race where he last came close to a win, the Movistar Yamaha rider knows that he’s got the chance to shine in front of his loyal British fans.
Trapped in development hell for over a year and currently in the midst of Yamaha’s longest ever time without a race win, it’s now 14 months and 21 races since Rossi last stood on the top step of the podium at Assen last season. But while he might not have been able to take victory twelve months ago at Silverstone, Rossi told MCN that he still has fond memories of last year’s race at the Northamptonshire circuit.
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"I like Silverstone a lot, and in 2017 it was one of my best races of the season together with Assen. In Assen I won, but in Silverstone I started well from the front row, led the race for 18 laps, and at a certain moment I started to think that I could win! Unfortunately, at the end I wasn’t strong enough, but it was still a great race and I liked it a lot."
That’s no surprise though, with the Italian has been a fan of the track ever since making a late debut there in 2011, a year after MotoGP returned to it. But despite making a slow start on the Ducati, he says that being able to go fast at Silverstone on a Yamaha helps to reassure him that even old dogs can still learn new tricks!
"Silverstone is a very difficult race track, and in the first year in 2010 I didn’t race there because I had broken my leg. Then in 2011 and 2012 I rode the Ducati and it was like I didn’t race, because my feeling with the bike was so bad! But when I came back with Yamaha I tried to study the whole track, because it’s very interesting and very technical. In the end, I’ve been strong for the past two years and I’m happy about this, because I can still learn a new track when I’m old!"
And with a strong pace at the similarly fast and flowing Assen despite Yamaha’s ongoing acceleration issues, Rossi is confident of repeating a clean streak of podiums that now stretches back to 2014. Instead, he admits, he’s more concerned about the rumours of track and not mechanical grip issues after the track was fully resurfaced earlier this year.
"The biggest question is the asphalt, because always in Silverstone there are the bumps and never great grip. So, I hope that this year there is better grip even if it’s not fantastic – but it’ll only be a problem if it’s worse. Hopefully we have one type of asphalt and not the 24 types we had last year! I hope it’s good, because Silverstone is a proper MotoGP track, and when you go fast there you enjoy it. But it’s more than enjoyment – it’s like having sex!"
Pick up this week's MCN for an extensive, 36-page British Grand Prix preview featuring exclusive interviews with Rossi, Marquez and Lorenzo, a hot lap with Cal Crutchlow and the tech secrets between Marquez' championship-leading Honda.
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