After the disappointment of Le Mans and Mugello, Valentino left his hopes at home before arriving in Barcelona, ready for whatever the Spanish circuit will throw at him. For now, all is well, the Doctor placing inside the sought-after Top Ten in both sessions (7th overall), and not too far from the fastest riders. So far, so good, but Rossi prefers not to get ahead of himself though.
Valentino, after Mugello, you talked about a less than ideal work method. What have you changed here?
“In Italy and at Le Mans before that we had some things to test, something we have to do as a factory team to be able to improve the bike, especially at a time like this. Today though, we focused more on the race weekend itself, leaving the M1 in its standard configuration”.
“I went into the last two rounds feeling optimistic, because last year I'd reached the podium, but instead we need a reset. Today we've worked well and I felt comfortable on the M1, I had fun riding it and when I do, I can be quite fast”.
“It's too early to say, it's only Friday and many riders have good pace. Mine is nothing special but I'm not too far from the fastest guys. I'm taking it session by session for now”.
What's your next thought?
“The first thing will be to improve the bike, we still have work to do. The most important thing is to get straight into Q2”.
Today the first 19 were within a second of each other…
“The organiser has worked hard to level the playing field, with electronics limitations and a single tyre supplier, and they've succeeded. We're all close and that's what spectators want from MotoGP”.
Yet, the Yamaha is consistently last in terms of top speed…
“Despite Morbidelli's optimism, the download straight hasn't really helped much (he laughs). We didn't do badly this morning but lost more this afternoon with the wind coming in the opposite direction. We can't modify the engine, so we have to live with this limitation”.
Would you prefer a regulation that allows more in the way of engine development, like in F1?
“To be honest, it's a senseless discussion, I don't make the rules. We just need to build an engine that is strong for next season. We should see the new prototype bike in time for the Brno test, as we did during seasons when we were strong”.
Why has the Yamaha always suffered in terms of top speed?
“it's in the bike's DNA. In Formula 1 for example, the regulation changes dramatically from yer to year and so you have to build a new car each time, while in MotoGP it's more of an evolution. I don't know, maybe the Yamaha frame builders are particularly good and the engine builders a little less so (he laughs)”.
Has the new silencer helped?
“I can't say it's bad but I haven't noted much difference either. We'll use the standard one for the race and then try the new one again in testing”.
Are you worried about tomorrow's higher temperatures?
“The track has lost a lot of grip with respect to last year, when it was new. I was able to ride well today though, even in the afternoon heat”.