Like most of the other riders, Valentino Rossi also spent his final day of testing in Qatar sitting it out in the pits. The strong wind and a lot of sand blown onto the track made it pointless to get on the bike, so much so that only a handful of riders ventured out on the Losail circuit.
“It is a pity to have lost a day - commented the Doctor - Fortunately we did an important job yesterday, but I had other things to try and also do a race simulation. With already 4 days of testing behind us, we have completed 80% of our program, so I'm happy anyway ".
Is the balance positive?
“I would say yes, because we were able to improve the bike and my sensations. Yesterday I was not bad either over one lap or on the pace, so I leave Qatar with good feelings and now there is about ten days to rest, relax and prepare for the first race. "
What makes you so satisfied?
“The first positive aspect is that Yamaha has put in a lot of effort during the winter and brought things that work, like the new frame and aerodynamic updates. They worked in a very clever way. I also have good feelings with the new team, these two things make me happy, I know there are several strong riders and bikes but I will try to be with them. I'm faster than a year ago, but like many others ”.
Are you also satisfied with the arrival of Crutchlow?
“I pushed a lot in recent years to improve the collaboration between the Japanese side of Yamaha and the European one, sometimes it is not easy to find the right balance, but we have to work together because that was the key to Suzuki's success last year. Now it seems to work well, we have a good test team with Crutchlow and Galbusera. Cal is very motivated and will be able to help us ”.
It seems that Yamaha has moved on…
“The last few years we have had a lot of problems in making progress, nothing that came really helped us to improve. As I said, Yamaha have worked in a smarter way, but we will have to wait until the weekend of the Grand Prix, and above all the race, to understand everything, there are other factors to consider ”.
Will the tyres still be an unknown factor this year?
“With Michelin everything can change from the warm-up to the race, no matter how many tests you have done, maybe this is good for us: you can never be sure. Last night I watched the 2019 GP again, it was fantastic, like a Moto3 race, with 12 riders all together. I hope this year's race will be the same and of course to be in the leading group ".
Could having tested only in Qatar in the winter be a problem?
“I'm not absolutely sure of anything! (laughs). This is historically not a track that has great grip, even if it wasn't bad these days, plus the Yamaha has always done well here. We will have to wait until we go to Europe, to Portimao, Jerez, Le Mans to get a clear idea. I don't know if the step forward we have made will be valid on all tracks, but I think it is not the only one, no one knows ”.
Have you also improved the start?
“I saw that many have been working on their device, especially Ducati. Horsepower is essential to get a good start and that is not exactly our strong point. It is necessary to work on the clutch release”.
Have you been vaccinated against Covid?
“Yes, this morning and I am very happy. I think it's a big step towards returning to normal, we will no longer have the fear of missing 2 or 3 races as happened to me last year. Dorna and the Government of Qatar have given us a great help and I am happy ”.