Rossi thinks six rid­ers can win

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Valentino Rossi reck­ons there could be more sur­prise win­ners in 2017 after last sea­son saw nine dif­fer­ent Mo­togp race vic­tors.

A com­bi­na­tion of new con­trol elec­tron­ics, Miche­lin tyres and mixed con­di­tions made 2016 the most un­pre­dictable year in mod­ern his­tory.

The Ital­ian said: “Why not an­other year like last year? It’s not im­pos­si­ble. Maybe nine dif­fer­ent rid­ers will be hard, be­cause that’s a strange thing at this level, even though it’s good for Mo­togp. But there’s at least six rid­ers that can win a race this year.”

Rossi ex­pects to be a front run­ner after a pos­i­tive end-of-year test in Sepang. He had left the Va­len­cia test – held straight after last year’s fi­nal round – crit­i­cal of the new ma­chine and the firm’s Ja­panese engi­neers, slat­ing the bike for not be­ing dif­fer­ent enough to the one that he’d rid­den on all year.

But after a pri­vate test in Malaysia – where he was able to com­pare the 2016 and 2017 bike back-to­back – he started to see the M1’s full po­ten­tial. “We didn’t know any­thing about the 2017 bike be­fore Va­len­cia, but I ex­pected a big­ger change than we got. So ev­ery­one in the team, and me for sure, was cu­ri­ous.

“Now our bike is very good and strong. We’re fast with the new tyres from the first lap, and where we need to im­prove is the sec­ond

half of the race. We have to be more con­sis­tent to the end of a race.”

Team boss Mas­simo Mere­galli said 2016 had been tough. He said: “Our com­peti­tors made an im­prove­ment while we stayed the same. One of our stronger points is sta­bil­ity in the faster cor­ners. To have that maybe we have to lose some turn­ing. But with the new chas­sis, it looks like we can gain some of that back. It is bet­ter, but still an area that we’d like to im­prove.”

Rossi is fi­nally warm­ing to his new ma­chine

Un­pre­dictabil­ity is one pre­dictable thing about this year’s Mo­togp, says Rossi

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