The Jerez Grand Prix won't be like other races, at least not for Valentino and the Yamaha. The bad memories of 2017 prevail and the Spanish weekend needs to bring some kind of confirmation, in order to be able to construct the short-term future.
“Last year we came here optimistic, we thought we could win the championship - recalls Rossi - Vinales had won two races and I was leading the championship. i'm normally pleased to return to Europe, with so many tracks that I like, but it turned out to be the worst weekend of the year”.
Dreams were replaced by the harsh reality.
“The limits of the M1 emerged. I started to suffer at tracks where, just the year before, I'd been fast. For this reason, I'd say that this will be an important weekend: we'll be able to see if we're more competitive than last year”.
Which would mean seeing the light at the end of a tunnel that's lasted 13 races, the number of rounds at which Yamaha has failed to win.
“It will be a key race. it's not a question of winning or reaching the podium, but finding a bike that I can ride well. This is a track that can tell us a lot”.
The Doctor is not expecting miracles, he knows he needs to continue to grit his teeth, but he least wants to know that the direction taken is the right one.
“It's not the moment to consider ourselves beaten, if we did that it would be really hard to reach the end of the season. It's not a question of winning the title or not, the important thing is to be fast at every track. We're going through a tough time, at some races we're better and at other worse, but we're working well and hanging in there”.
Perhaps the new asphalt will help, but some of his rivals, Honda included, will benefit from the fact they have recently tested at Jerez.
“I really wanted to come and test in September but we went to Sepang instead. We'll see what bearing the asphalt has, the Moto3 and Moto2 guys tell me it's better, though it's already damaged in some places”.
Rossi goes on to comment on recent market news, raising a doubt as to the rumours regarding Zarco and a Honda offer.
“I've not heard about that. I ask you a question - if you could choose, would you get on a KTM or a Honda? As for Dovizioso, I don't see any real problem. There's this race to sign early on, but everyone does his own thing. I don't think Dovizioso or Ducati are thinking about splitting”.
A final work regarding Pecco Bagnaia, who leads the Moto2 championship as it heads to Europe.
“His story is an interesting one. He came to us after his first season in the championship, in which he did little, while he'd been very strong in the CEV. I think he started to believe in himself in 2016, when he races with the Mahindra, an inferior bike to that of the competition. From then on, his growth has been incredible and I think he's ready to fight for the title”.