ROSSI LEAVES RIVALS BEHIND
The GOAT makes hay while the sun doesn’t shine!
Valentino Rossi showed that he can never, ever be written off after taking a stunning victory at the Dutch TT in Assen to extend his incredible Motogp winning record to 20 years, 10 months, and seven days – as well as launching himself right back into title contention.
Now only seven points behind new championship leader Andrea Dovizioso, Rossi has once again shown that he has the pace needed to challenge for his tenth world title.
However, despite the significance of the race for both the history books and the Italian’s championship chances, a jubilant Rossi admitted after the race that even more important than the points was the feeling of returning back to the top step of the podium for the first time in 12 months.
“For sure it was an important result for the championship, but even more important is the sensation of being number one, after a year away. The reason I race motorcycles is to get this feeling, the feeling that I have for the five or six hours after the race. It’s a fantastic feeling, and after a year without it, it was even better! It came after a great race, too, with a great battle with Danilo, Marc and Zarco.”
But while, in the immediate aftermath of his success, Rossi might have been more concerned with the emotions of the win, he was able to recognise perhaps the most critical factor the huge difference that a new chassis for his Yamaha M1 has made.
Making the change after last week’s test at Barcelona, it saw a move away from the original 2017-specification frame introduced at last year’s Valencia end-of-season test. It was designed to improve tyre life towards the end of races, but Rossi has complained of understeer since first trying it and as a result has struggled all season.
But, with a series of bad results for both him and team-mate Maverick Viñales, who dominated the early part of the year, Yamaha have developed a new chassis that’s closer to the old 2016 model – a change that Rossi believes was long overdue.
He said: “We’ve worked hard to change the chassis and it means that I’m able to ride in a better way now. From the first time I tried the new bike I didn’t feel comfortable on corner entry, and had to force the bike in a style that wasn’t my own. I wasn’t fast, and that’s the Yamaha’s strong point, so we’ve worked hard to improve that area.”
And while there might still be a lot left to play for in the 2017 championship battle, Rossi was also able to take stock of just where he sits following Sunday’s battle, admitting that he fully believes that he can now once again be a contender for the crown come Valencia and the final round in November – even if he’s playing his cards close to his chest.
He said: “It’s incredibly open after eight races, between a lot of different riders and different bikes. But we’ve discovered this season that it can totally change from one weekend to the next, and it’ll be important to be strong again this weekend in Sachsenring. But before then, it’s important to enjoy the taste of my tenth Assen victory!”
‘The feeling of being number one is the reason why I race motorcycles’ VALENTINO ROSSI