Today, in Qatar, Valentino took part in his first test as a forty-year old “I have a bit of a bad back, but everything else feels pretty much the same" he laughs. Joking aside, Rossi is nevertheless pleased with his day, having closed in fifth place. More significantly, the sessions have confirmed some important things about the M1.
The Doctor was already pleased with progress at Sepang, and his feeling with the Yamaha continues in a similar vein at Losail.
“Today has been fairly positive, we've worked well and I've been consistently fairly fast. I only had a problem with the second set of tyres, but when I put the soft tyre in, we were able to complete some good laps”.
What are your impressions of the track?
“This is a track where it's important to find grip and the bike is still moving too much. The work at Sepang focused on testing the new material, but here we're instead concentrating on set-up, geometry and electronics, in order to prepare for the race”.
Top speed is your weak point…
“That's true, we're behind in that area, but my feelings on board are positive. We're moving in the right direction, but the road is still long”.
So it's better, but still not enough?
“We still have a lot of work to do. Over the last two years, we've made some mistakes and a big gap has opened up, particularly with respect to Honda and Ducati. Now something's changing, both in terms of the people involved and the approach. I can see everyone is very motivated and focused, but it will take more than three months to resolve the situation. We need to work in this way for a year, then we'll see”.
If you think back to last year, would you have expected to be back at this level now?
“I'm in the situation I would have imagined if I were feeling optimistic, so it's not bad. But it's also true that Sepang and Losail are tracks where we've always been strong, we need to see what happens at other tracks. Having said that, I like the current atmosphere though.
How are things going with your new coach Gavira?
“Good and I expected that, because all the guys at the Riders Academy were in love with him. He works in a different way to Cadalora: Luca was very focused on bike set up and dynamics, Idalio is working more on my riding style”.