The Doc­tor slumps to eighth in a race he won a year ago, but still has high hopes

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Valentino Rossi and Mav­er­ick Viñales slumped to their worst re­sults of 2017 with the Yamaha duo hit by acute rear grip is­sues leav­ing them un­able to ei­ther qual­ify or race any­where close to what was ex­pected.

Speak­ing to MCN af­ter the race, Rossi, who won the race last year, but even­tu­ally took the che­quered flag in a distant eighth place this time round, ad­mit­ted that the rear grip is­sues com­bined with other prob­lems with the new spec­i­fi­ca­tion ma­chine means that the week­end turned into a lost cause.

“For me the main prob­lem is that the bike has more un­der­steer, and that the prob­lem be­came very big for the rear tyre. In the end that is the big­gest is­sue, be­cause 10 laps from the end I was very much in trou­ble and had to slow down so much. It was im­pos­si­ble to exit the cor­ners fast. But also there was a lack of turn­ing that I’ve felt with this bike since the first time I tried it. I’ve al­ways suf­fered with it, some­times more and some­times less.

“We are very sad about the week­end and about the re­sult, be­cause it’s one of my favourite tracks and we ex­pected a good race. Last year it was a great race and I won. But we had the small worry that we could suf­fer here like we did in Jerez.

“It’s very strange that in the two races I won last year we suf­fer this year – they’ve been the worst two. We tried a lot of dif­fer­ent things but we were never fast enough and the race was very dif­fi­cult.”

De­signed to im­prove tyre life, es­pe­cially in the fi­nal part of the race, it seems that Yamaha’s en­gi­neers went too far in the wrong di­rec­tion with the new chas­sis, end­ing up with some­thing that means Rossi and Viñales are now un­able to be com­pet­i­tive, es­pe­cially in lower grip con­di­tions like they en­coun­tered in Barcelona.

Yet, de­spite hav­ing such good suc­cess with the bike last year at both the Cata­lan and Span­ish rounds where they’ve strug­gled this year, Rossi says there’s no plans just yet to switch back to the 2016 chas­sis that worked in his favour. In­stead, they plan to trial a se­ries of parts at Mon­day’s test at the Mont­melò cir­cuit de­signed to help fix the is­sues.

How­ever, with the championship now head­ing to the cooler con­di­tions of north­ern Europe for the next four rounds in Hol­land, Ger­many, the Czech Repub­lic and Aus­tria, Rossi says that while things might not be the way they’d like, they’re far from be­ing out of the 2017 title race.

“It’s still very tight, and there’s five rid­ers sep­a­rated by only 28 points. We have to con­cen­trate on the fu­ture in­stead, and it’s pos­i­tive that we were able to test at a track where we strug­gled. We have to im­prove the speed and feel­ing with the bike.”

‘We are sad about the week­end be­cause it’s one of my favourite tracks’ VALENTINO ROSSI

SI­MON PATTERSON MO­TOGP RE­PORTER IN BARCELONA si­mon.patterson@mo­tor­cy­cle­

Rossi ad­justs his front end

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