Valentino Rossi is the only rider to have already raced at the Red Bull Ring, reaching the 125 podium in 1996 on the track that was then known as Zeltweg. Twenty years later, and on board the Yamaha in MotoGP, it's quite a different matter. But he likes the track.
"It‘s a very particular circuit because it is really, really fast and you spend a lot of time with the throttle fully open - he explains - Compared to the other circuits it has a lot less corners, at the end of the lap you have done only nine or ten, normally there are around fifteen. It‘s very fast and the place is good and the corners are OK."
But the Yamaha is not so comfortable at a track that requires power and blistering acceleration.
"I think racing here will be very difficult for us because it‘s a fast track, so for sure it‘s not the best for the M1, because usually we suffer a bit on top speed, and in fact we are struggling - he admits - We have to work and give the maximum to get the maximum. Already today, we made a step and now we‘ll see. We‘ll get some rest and take a holiday and we will see what happens when we come back in August."
He leaves the Red Bull Ring with some positive sensations and in final fifth position.
"We had two good days, especially today we improved the performance and the balance of the bike a lot, but also the track was better, with more rubber where we needed it. We‘ve got a little bit closer to the top guys."
But he knows it's not enough, because the Ducatis are flying and the factory Hondas were absent, preventing any comparisons to be drawn.
“It will be a very difficult race, especially with some of our factory rivals, they are faster than us. It will be very important to also understand the potential of the other competitors, because some are not here. It will be interesting to see if we are a little bit faster or slower than them, but we‘ll have to wait for the race weekend."
Lorenzo also has some doubts about the Yamaha's competitiveness at a track that he enjoys, despite a few problems.
"The track is beautiful and very fast. The tarmac is good, there are just three or four corners where the wall is very close and that can be dangerous in case of a crash - he notes - It‘s difficult to change this track, but for sure for the future it would be good to try to improve the safety.
But what worries him more is the speed of the Ducatis.
“Some of our rivals are fast, it looks like the track is giving them a big advantage, especially in braking stability, acceleration and top speed. They can put in all the power they have at this track and the difference is huge. Compared to other competitors we are not so far behind, but there are a lot of rivals, who are all very fast. We will reduce their advantage, but not close the whole margin, because they are so fast. With the bike we have - the balance and the electronics – we have to find the best setting for all the aspects and go as fast as possible."
The second proved to be the most positive for him too, as he closed in overall sixth place.
"Today the track was gaining grip and we were able to go a little bit faster - he says - We also tried many things on the bike and some of them improved, so again I could go a little bit faster. In the end we were not 1.4s from the fastest one, but nine tenths. It‘s a little improvement and we are still far behind, but let‘s see if we can do another step in the race weekend."
But there might be some unknowns...
“We will have to see what the weather does and which tyres Michelin will bring for the GP. Maybe they won‘t bring the tyres that we tried here. Let‘s see if they have less grip or suffer more graining. The one they keep may not be the best, but should be safer for a long race. Let's see how we feel in one month‘s time."
To have an idea of how testing went, watch the video here featuring Rossi and Lorenzo in action at the Red Bull Ring.