ROSSI LEAVES RI­VALS BE­HIND

The GOAT makes hay while the sun doesn’t shine!

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son MO­TOGP RE­PORTER

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

Su­per-tight rac­ing and a ti­tle that’s there for the tak­ing 38 years old and back on the top step in Mo­togp

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