Valentino Rossi has admitted that the one second gap to his teammate Jorge Lorenzo on Monday at Sepang was a cause for concern. The Italian had no answer for the pace of the reigning champion on day one but acknowledged that he is still experimenting with different configurations of his Yamaha YZR-M1 and hopes to close the gap later in the week.
“The gap to Lorenzo is too big, but it’s also true that he was stronger than everybody else, so he was able to have a better rhythm. On the other side, my position is not so bad and we worked a lot on the bike. It‘s just the first day and the total count will be at the end of the third, but we have a lot of things to do. I‘m quite happy because the electronics already work quite well. We‘re not at the same level as last year, but it‘s already good to ride the bike and especially the Michelin front tyre improved a lot, so the feeling when you ride the bike is more similar to last year. These are the two important issues. We had three bikes, but one of them was just meant for doing a few laps, it was the old one. We have two 2016 bikes and I did my fastest lap time on the bike that‘s more similar to the 2015 model, so it‘s a little bit half and half, but just because I didn‘t have enough time to work on the 2016. I did only one stint and it wasn‘t so bad, we will continue tomorrow and see. Our first issue for this test is to decide which one, so tomorrow we‘ll try to get a better understanding.”
Lorenzo didn’t enjoy the smoothest of days himself with illness restricting him to shorter runs but the Spaniard hopes to be able to complete some representative race runs later in the test.
“I‘m very happy and surprised about the feeling I had today with the Michelin tyres. The lap times were relatively easy to achieve and every time we exited pit lane we improved something on the bike to understand the electronics better and they adapted very well to the Michelin tyres. I‘m very happy with the change, because Sepang, for me, is always difficult. Today I only slept two hours because of the jetlag and I have a sore throat so I‘m taking antibiotics. My physical condition is not perfect, but to ride two or three laps, I can do that very well. If I was fitter I could do longer stints.”