Valentino Rossi is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, even if all the Yamahas are in the top 5 and the Doctor is in line with the best, with the exception of Quartararo who was on another level at Sepang today. He doesn't want to make the mistake of being too optimistic too early on in the weekend though.
“I've started well, that's for sure, and I'm pleased - he begins - We've worked on the bike and, at the end of FP2, I had good pace with the medium tyre, which we might use on the race. Then I put in the soft and set a good time”.
“As usual, despite managing to be quick, I'm worried about rear tyre consumption, particularly at a demanding track like Sepang. I didn't have any real problems today, but I made only 6 consecutive laps, on Sunday we need to do 20 ”.
Can track conditions help?
“Having two sessions in the dry helps and, if it doesn't rain, grip will improve. They've resurfaced three turns this year (turns 1, 2 and 12) and I have to say they've done a good job”.
What's the plan for tomorrow?
“I was fast right from the start today, so the base is good. I felt good on the M1 and enjoyed myself. But this isn't the first time that the Yamahas are strong on Friday, the problem is still acceleration. We've improved a little but compared to Honda and Ducati we're still a step behind. They exit the turns better and consume the rear tyre less”.
Quartararo doesn't seem to have this problem…
“He feels it less than me, but all the Yamahas suffer by the end of the race. Fabio continues to surprise, he rides well and is able to find better grip in acceleration, the very phase where I suffer more. I've looked at his data but I don't understand how he does it”.
He too will have a factory Yamaha next year. Will it be an advantage?
“I don't think much will change, I mean Fabio doesn't have it this year but Franco does, and who's the strongest? The positive thing will beto have four M1 bikes that are all the same, as it will help development”.
The bikes are evolving just as the riders are working on their riding style. You're carrying out tests with the front brake, Marquez with the rear.
“I saw, he's using it on the handlebar, with the scooter-type lever. All the top riders have been modifying their styles in the last couple of years, because the tyres and electronics are different and to exploit them you need to make changes. For example, everyone uses the rear brake a lot now and the handlebar lever could be the future”.