MO­TOGP IS GO

■ Rossi: Our bike is bet­ter ■ Lorenzo: Why so slow? ■ Honda rid­ers un­happy

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON MO­TOGP REPORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Valentino Rossi and fac­tory Yamaha team-mate Mav­er­ick Vinãles were both pleas­antly sur­prised by the per­for­mance of the new M1 af­ter the first day of test­ing at Sepang.

Un­happy at the tra­di­tional endof-sea­son Va­len­cia test last year and again when he rode the bike in a pri­vate out­ing at the home of the penul­ti­mate round of the cham­pi­onship, Rossi told MCN that the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two bikes is night and day.

“For­tu­nately, the bike is bet­ter,” he said. “The first day was in­ter­est­ing, the first time we tried the real bikes – my bike, the one that I will use all sea­son. In Ja­pan they’ve worked very hard on the en­gine, on the elec­tron­ics, and with a slightly dif­fer­ent chas­sis af­ter our com­ments about the first pro­to­type.

“We never know a lot from Yamaha about what’s com­ing, but when we saw the new bikes for the first time we were im­pressed. They did a very good job on all the small par­tic­u­lar de­tails. It was a lot bet­ter than the first pro­to­type, and a nice sur­prise!”

And the good feel­ing in the Yamaha garage wasn’t con­tained to the nine­times world cham­pion, with new team-mate Viñales thrilled to fin­ish near the top of the timesheets on his first proper day of rid­ing against his cham­pi­onship op­po­si­tion on the new Yamaha.

De­spite im­pres­sive pace both at the Va­len­cia test and again in their pri­vate Sepang test, the Spa­niard ad­mit­ted that he was sur­prised to find his form so eas­ily again as he be­gins to un­lock the po­ten­tial of the bike.

“It was bet­ter than I ex­pected,” he said. “It’s al­ways hard in Malaysia to get used to the bike, but I felt good and was rid­ing fast from the open­ing laps. That meant that we could work on our plan quite early, and we were able to try many things.

“When I came in Novem­ber, I was fo­cused on mak­ing the lap times, but now we’re work­ing. I had a great pack­age then, and came away feel­ing strong on a good bike, but now we’re able to try things and find the po­ten­tial of the new bike.”

While Viñales might be im­press­ing with his lap times, he ad­mits that there’s still work to be done not only on the bike but also on his own rid­ing style, as he con­tin­ues to adapt from the Suzuki to the Yamaha in a bid to get the best out of the M1.

“I’ve only rid­den the bike for five days be­fore com­ing here, and it might take all the rest of test­ing be­fore I adapt. I’m still go­ing to be learn­ing through this year’s races, too – but so far I’m happy be­cause we’re do­ing a great job.”

With a stronger en­gine and with bet­ter ac­cel­er­a­tion and cor­ner exit, some­where the Yamaha has lost out in re­cent years, the Yamaha en­gi­neers have more im­por­tantly man­aged to de­liver the M1’s in­creased power in a friend­lier way.

Rossi added: “Our big­gest prob­lem last year was that we stressed the rear tyre too much, and we worked a lot on that. But now we have some in­ter­est­ing things to work on!”

‘It was bet­ter than ex­pected; I rode fast from the open­ing laps’ MAV­ER­ICK VIÑALES

Viñales: third af­ter day one, but “still adapt­ing”

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