MOTOGP IS GO
■ Rossi: Our bike is better ■ Lorenzo: Why so slow? ■ Honda riders unhappy
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”