MotoGP

Rossi 'better' with bike 'quite different' to test

'We used a bike quite different compared to the test in February, and the feeling is better' - Valentino Rossi, Malaysian MotoGP.
Rossi 'better' with bike 'quite different' to test

Valentino Rossi led the Yamaha challenge with a close fourth fastest lap time during day one of the Malaysian MotoGP.

Back on track for the first time since team-mate Maverick Vinales ended Yamaha's record win drought at Phillip Island, Rossi began the Sepang weekend second fastest to title runner-up rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) in the morning session.

The Italian then led the way during the middle stages of FP2 and, despite not bettering his FP1 time, stayed on top until new tyres were fitted in the final minutes.

Although Rossi also put a soft rear tyre at the end, he only went a fraction quicker than on the medium and thus slipped back to seventh in the session (+0.4s). However, Rossi's morning time was good enough for fourth overall (+0.159s).

"The first day for us is positive, because I was quite fast this morning, and also this afternoon," said Rossi, who tried all three types of rear tyre this afternoon, plus the soft and medium fronts.

"After checking the data from Phillip Island, we worked a lot on the setting of the bike, and we improved the grip, especially from the rear tyre.

"And the first impression is positive, because I was good in the hot lap, but also the pace is not so bad. It's just Friday, we have to see, but the start was not so bad, and now we have to concentrate, especially on the tyre choice, because it's very open front and rear.

"Also we have to wait for the weather, and we hope that the dry will stay, especially for Sunday."

Rossi, ninth fastest at the pre-season Sepang test, confirmed that the balance of his M1 has been modified in search of "less spin and better acceleration".

"We used a bike quite different compared to the test in February, and the feeling is better.

"So this is good. Also, after Phillip Island, we are strong here as well. Maverick is fast. So this is very positive for the bike and for the team."

Vinales' has enjoyed a clear upturn in form since making bike-balance changes in Thailand, but Rossi was asked how much impact his additional 5kg of body weight makes.

"Some difference is the weight, which is not a lot, but anyway I am more heavy. But especially it's my height," explained Rossi, who is 10cm taller than his team-mate.

"So when you are tall, it's more difficult for the rear tyre, especially for the rear tyre life. For me, you can have some other advantage, but it looks like you can stress more the rear tyre.

"But you have to work. You have to work in another way, on the position on the bike, because now it looks like with this tyre if you load it too much, you suffer a lot."

The Doctor added: "It's also true that Maverick has a different position on the bike, he's more on the front, especially with the top of his body, and this is a difference."

Rossi, like Vinales, is also working on throttle control.

"Yes, it's very important, because especially with the Michelin and this ECU, you have to help a lot the electronics of the bike, because it's not like in the past," Rossi said. "So the electronics side can help you, especially for the safety, but you have to be good."

Despite the competitive start, Rossi isn't getting carried away.

"First of all it's just Friday. We have to speak Sunday, after 20 laps of the race. Sincerely, I don't expect anything, so I don't expect that we arrive at one track and go well or badly.

"I always hope to be strong, of course. Usually in Sepang, Yamaha is quite good."

Nonetheless, Yamaha hasn't won at Sepang since Rossi's victory in 2010...

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