Valentino Rossi, on day one of practice at Valencia, has gone from high to low. Having started out well in the morning, despite a malfunction on his M1 in the early stages, he lost several positions in the afternoon. So, while Lorenzo and Marquez confirm their speed, the Doctor closes in 8th place.
“FP1 was fairly positive, particularly at the end - he recounts - I put the hard rear tyre in and felt good, setting the 2nd fastest time”.
Even though your M1 left you on foot…
“One of my mechanics left his wallet in the airbox (he laughs). All joking aside, it was only a small problem and the bike stopped for safety reasons, in the end I lost 5 minutes. But it was fun to ride through the paddock on the M1”.
A few hours later, things got worse…
“In the afternoon, I continued with the hard tyre and put it in at the front too, but it was all more difficult. I had no traction and after two or three laps I was really struggling, from what I've seen I wasn't the only one”.
So you moved over to the soft tyre?
“Yes and I improved my times, but not enough. I'm not happy, not with the set-up or balance of my bike, we need to check the data to see where to improve”.
Did you try the front tyres with the new profile that Michelin brought?
“At Brno that tyre worked well, but here I didn't feel any real difference. I'll try again tomorrow”.
Do you have an idea about how the competition is shaping up for the race?
“First we need to understand if we can use the soft tyre for the race, it's better but we don't know about its durability. Right now, Lorenzo is the quickest, followed by Marquez and Vinales, who both have good pace. Behind them there are many riders, including me, the Ducatis and Pol Espargarò. If I want to fight for the podium, I need another 3 or 4 tenths… and hope the others get worse (he laughts)”.
Will the final race of the season differ from the others?
“I don't think so, perhaps certain riders have extra motivation. I'm sorry we're already at the end, I've reached the last GP without even realising it”.
And now it's already time to think about 2017, what have you asked Yamaha for?
“We need to improve the engine, to have more top speed, and think that we have margin in terms of electronics. We need to safeguard the tyres in the final part of the race”.
And in terms of the frame?
“It's true that the M1 should have had a different one this year, but in the end the tyres change and we used the 2015 frame. We need to work there too, but I think that Yamaha is the best in terms of frames and priorities are high”.
Next year your team will debut in Moto2, will you use Kalex bikes or have you considered KTM?
“In 2017 we'll have Bagnaia and Manzi, two young riders, inexperienced in the category, Kalex is a sure thing. It's too risky, with two debut riders, to move to a new bike. We have a good rapport with KTM and will consider it in the future”.