Valentino, for now, finds himself continuing to play catch-up. Ducati is flying with Dovizioso, Suzuki surprises with Iannone and Honda is always a sure thing with Marquez. Yamaha, on the other hand, is trying to get back on its feet but it's not so simple.
On day two of testing in Qatar, Rossi lies in 11th position; he expected more of course.
“My position isn't great, but I could have been a few tenths quicker because I didn't actually go all out to do a time attack. I put in new tyres at the end, but felt some vibration at the front and so couldn't improve ” he explains.
Numbers aside, what are the sensations like?
“mid-way between those of Thailand and those of Malaysia. Sepang was the test where we did best and then in Buriram we suffered, here we're somewhere between the two”.
What is the M1's potential?
“I think we're more or less at the same level as the end of last year”.
What's working and what's not?
“I like the new frame, the bike turns better but I think we need to work on the electronics because we're suffering in acceleration. It's difficult to exit the turns, especially with used tyres, our rivals are stronger in this sense”.
What's your biggest worry at Losail?
“My pace isn't bad, the problem is the front tyre because when we use the one I like, the medium compound, it's hard to even complete half the race. We need to improve on this, because the hard tyre is no good for us, perhaps if we work on the bike balance”.
What type of season are you expecting?
“It's difficult to make predictions, but especially in the second half of 2017, Ducati and Honda both took a big step forward while we suffered. We're more or less still there, so we need to work hard”.
Is Ducati the point of reference right now?
“Up until a certain point, Dovizioso really impressed me because he's able to be really fast. But then iannone set the fastest time and was quick during the last two hours, also with used tyres. Marquez set a good time too, so it's hard to say that there's only Ducati”.
There are many frontrunnersi…
“It looks like Ducati and Honda, but also Suzuki is strong now so we need to work”.