Valentino Rossi is not particularly satisfied at the end of the second day of testing in Losail. While in the first session Rossi had managed to stay consistently up at the top end of the standings with relative ease, today the Yamaha rider was unable to repeat that form and had to settle for ninth place overall, after completing a race simulation at a not exactly inspiring pace.
Today Valentino also had to come to terms with the situation regarding the power of the Yamaha engine, which despite some improvement is not yet at the level of its chief rivals. This is no small problem with two weeks left before the start of the championship.
There is a lot of talk about the Ducati device for lowering the bike. When you followed the Desmosedici did you note anything in particular?
"Today I didn’t follow any factory Ducati, but we already saw they had a device to keep the bike low behind in the final part of 2019. I don’t know how much advantage they can have from this thing, but if they are using it, they clearly have a little. But the point is another."
What are you referring to?
"The problem is that I was with Zarco, the only Ducati rider that I followed, and I realized that it is still difficult for us in acceleration and on the straight. At that moment I was turning quite well but I was behind him and I was unable to pass him. We are still struggling to stay in the slipstream, and this is a bit of a problem".
Has there not been that power step that you expected?
"From what I could see today, we are still struggling. There is a speed difference of about ten horsepower, which is quite a lot. These are tests though and we will only see the real situation in the race when fuel consumption also counts. To be honest, we will all have to do the 22 laps of the race, because maybe today some riders pushed harder with the fuel and others less. We will see how things will go in the race".
In the search for power has the character of the engine also changed, perhaps getting worse?
"Usually when you increase the power of the engine, you risk making it more difficult to manage at the bottom end. Yamaha have tried to have more top speed without losing too much of the smoothness of this engine. It’s changed a bit, but not very much."
Is the package defined in view of the race or do you still have to do other tests?
"We will try and put it all together tomorrow, to define all the work done and make up the final package. Tomorrow is important because we have to take stock of the situation as it’s the last day of testing before the race. For the moment we are OK, but I think things will change in the race. There will be a lot of races, and even some more tests. Now is the time to get serious."
Have you tried the Yamaha holeshot device? Do you find it effective?
"Our holeshot device is not a huge step forward, but it is undoubtedly a help. But the point is that everyone will probably have it for the first race, so it means that everyone will start a little better and nothing much will change. It would be great if the regulations say that only the Yamaha can use it, because we are slow on the straight. I will talk to Carmelo (laughs - Ed.)!".
You know David Munoz well by now, how are you getting on with your new crew chief?
"In my career I have never really changed much, either my crew chief or the whole team. But at the end of 2019 we needed something different, we had to change something. We took this decision because we knew David very well as he was working in our Moto2 team. We needed someone young and new and it was a risk because he has no experience in MotoGP. But we knew him very well, he won the world championship with Pecco and I always liked his way of working with Pecco, because he was always very calm. It seems that this is the new generation of technicians, if you look in the pits there are many young people in this role. I am happy, the atmosphere is excellent in the team and I think we can be more competitive."