Valentino Rossi said the opening day of the Sepang pre-season test brought back memories of his successful first spell with Yamaha. The Italian has returned to the team after two years with Ducati and finished a competitive fourth on Tuesday, just four tenths behind the three pacesetters Dani Pedrosa, his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and Marc Marquez.

Rossi is excited by the potential for the remainder of the test and the season ahead, believing there is much more time to be found in the YZR-M1.

“I’m very happy about the first day of testing with the M1. After two seasons away I was able to come back on the bike and remember the good feeling I always had with it. I am also happy because I was quite fast from the morning. We worked on the settings to make some improvements and we made some good steps. In the afternoon we started to work on the new parts for the season. It’s just the first test but the potential is high and I am in a good position, I am in fourth place but not far from the other three guys. I am very positive that we can improve over the next few days but I’m happy with the start.”

Lorenzo was just eight thousandths behind Dani Pedrosa at the top of the leaderboard and expects the top two manufacturers to be closely matched in the upcoming season.

“This morning I had to get the feeling again for the MotoGP bike but it didn’t cost me so much time as it did last year. When I got up to a good pace we tried some things we couldn’t try in Aragon, we need to work on it more. Some parts I liked, some things need more work. Tomorrow we are going to keep trying the things we tried today and also some new parts. Times are very close between Yamaha and Honda so we will try to improve our bike to be even better. We are still working on acceleration, we improved a lot last year but it’s still not our strongest point. I think now at this point consistency is one of my strongest points and I hope to continue that this year.”

Team Director Massimo Meregalli took plenty of positives from the opening day and was particularly delighted to see Rossi return to form.

“Today was the first of the three test days; the riders were able to get back into their rhythm after a long break from the season. Unfortunately in November we weren’t able to finalise a few items that were for us very important but today we started to work on fixing that. The weather forecast is quite tricky for tomorrow and the day after but hopefully it will remain dry and we will be able to get all the information we are looking for. On Vale’s side he was able to understand today that he still has the speed, I could see he was very satisfied, which for us is a great thing. I think he was really looking for this test because as he said many times he had some doubts to settle. Jorge is pretty satisfied with the first day, he was very motivated and enthusiastic about the new items we tested. We’ll keep working and see how we will finish the test in two days time.”