Valentino Rossi explains with a simple and funny comment on what it was like to find himself competitive on the friendly Misano asphalt: "In Austria I felt like I was 50 years old, here I felt like I was 30" he laughs. Fifth place at the end of free practice satisfies him and seeing 4 Yamahas in the first 6 places speaks volumes about the speed of the M1 on the Italian circuit. After the purgatory of the Red Bull Ring, now the Doctor seems to be at the gates of heaven. At least for today, because there is still a full day of work left and the imperative is to keep improving.
“It was a good first day - he began - The most positive aspect is that the Yamaha is much more competitive here than it was in Austria. The situation is completely different, I can fight for the top positions, this makes the work different as well as the motivation."
Reckon you can get a podium on Sunday?
“Today I did a good lap and my pace is not bad either, but I have to improve for the podium. I lose a few tenths, about 3, here and there along the track ".
Did you expect to find a competitive M1 at Misano?
"Last year we were fast too, but I needed to get out on the track to see if we were still fast, because in MotoGP the technical situation can change quickly. The other manufacturers tested here, we didn't, but the M1 seems to have remained fast. There is still a lot of work to do, but I feel much younger than in Austria (laughs) ".
Why does the Yamaha go so well on this track?
“It is a narrow, complicated circuit with a lot of holes, the M1 is very stable, especially in the fast corners and I think this feature helps us, it is our strong point. In the morning I had more difficulties, but in the afternoon it went better and I was able to be consistent. But Vinales and Quartararo are very strong, then there are Mir and Pol Espargarò, if I want to fight with them I will have to improve further ”.
A lot of riders complained about the potholes…
“I think the new asphalt is of a very high standard, it has great grip, it feels like you are really on a track. I came to lap immediately after the work and it was like a pool table, the second time there were a few holes and now they are a few too many. The grip is always excellent, I would be happy if they used this asphalt for all the circuits, but perhaps the ground under the surface has moved. "
The positive note is the presence of the public…
"There aren't many people but it's better than nothing, the feeling is beautiful, the atmosphere with the fans is completely different. That's how it is in every sport, we are here for them. It is also a nice step forward in the hope of being able to return to normal. They told me the tickets sold out in 5 hours after they went on sale, like for a Pink Floyd or U2 concert! It's good for motorcycling”.