Valentino Rossi says he’ll be able to understand many things about Yamaha’s progress over the past two years when the 2019 season kicks off properly on Friday at Qatar’s Losail circuit. Struggling with performance from their M1 machine in recent seasons, he says that all will be revealed on whether they’ve made progress when they line up against the opposition.
"Finally, the first GP of the season is about to start! The preseason tests were very important. Both in Sepang and in Qatar we've taken steps forward and we can say that we've done positive tests. We still have to improve a lot, but the road we're on is the right one. This Friday we'll begin the first 2019 race weekend and we'll be able to understand many things better.
“We'll have time to improve the bike during the free practice sessions and we'll do everything to get ready for the race. I feel good, I have trained well this winter, and I'm ready to start this new season with my team and all the Yamaha staff. We will do our best!"
However, while Rossi says there’s still work to do, teammate Maverick Viñales is much more upbeat about how the season looks after a strong testing performance.
"I‘m so excited to come to Qatar and start the new season. I can‘t wait! The conclusion of the winter tests was very positive. I felt I was going very fast on the three days of testing here in Qatar, so I come to the first race with a positive mindset. We have a good rhythm. The first round in Losail is going to be very important to see if all the work that was done during the winter has served us well.
“Our bike has many strong points at this moment. I felt very good riding the bike during all the winter, I pushed my M1 to the limit. We have taken a step forward compared to last season, I think I'm riding my M1 in a very good way again. There's still a lot of work to do, but I feel strong enough to fight for the podium at this circuit this weekend.
“Above all, I feel very excited to start a new season with Yamaha. We just need to keep working and focus on improving the bike as much as possible to fight for the podium and, of course, for the victory. I can‘t forget that I won my first GP with Yamaha here, so I have very special memories of this circuit and that gives me extra motivation."