For Valentino, the Assen race means returning the track at which he last lifted the winner's trophy. Two years ago, after which he has been unable to repeat the result. Yamaha has never had such a 'dry' spell before, with many asking whether the Dutch air will bring a turnaround.
“It's good of you to ask - smiles Rossi - but I'm just looking for a good weekend. I adore this track, I love riding here and we always see a great battle. There are many variables, and I'm also coming off two zeros at tracks where I thought I'd score points. We'll focus on being competitive, and then see”.
The Doctor doesn't want to create false expectations, also because he's been burned recently. The best thing to do is take things day by day.
“This fast isn't just mine but Yamaha in general hasn't won a lot. In the last two years, I've had some good races and chances to win, like Austin, where I was beaten, or Malaysia, where I made a mistake. But I've probably only had 4 or 5 such opportunities, so we need to remain focused and be ready for when the next win comes”.
The rider's job is not simply to put on his leathers and twist the throttle for as long as possible.
“The race weekend basically started the Sunday before. You start by watching videos and data from the previous year and when you get to the track you already know many things. But what really changes is the work in the garage, in the past I had some free time over a weekend, not any more though. But a good result is more satisfying because you know you've given it your all. But at the same time, if you end up out of the race and it's not your fault, you're also more disappointed”.
But the Catalunya weekend wasn't all bad, in that it was the first of the year in which all the Yamahas were competitive.
“And we need to continue on from there. As I've said, the aim is to be competitive, work hard and be ready to fight for an important result come Sunday. I'll need to wait until tomorrow to understand what level we're at”.
And there won't be any significant updates for the M1.
“I'll just have a few electronic details, the bike will be more or less the same. As for the rear brake on the handlebar, I need more track time to get used to it before using it in a race. I've tried the thumb activated one in the past, but I think the one under the clutch lever is more interesting, though it's basically not used in MotoGP any more. I think it could offer greater sensitivity, but we'll have to see during winter testing."