Valentino Rossi believes that this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez will be an important weekend for him and the Monster Yamaha team.
The nine-time world champion has enjoyed a positive start to 2019, with a fifth place in Qatar being followed by back-to-back second places in Argentina and America. The results mean that Rossi sits second in the championship, only three points behind Andrea Dovizioso.
Despite the improving results, Rossi acknowledges that this weekend’s race is an important one for the team. Speaking in the official MotoGP press conference, the Italian said:
“It will be very important for understanding if we’re stronger and faster, if we’ve improved the bike because last year was a very difficult weekend and I wasn’t so fast, my speed wasn’t enough. It looks like in the first races we’re more competitive and we’ve improved the bike, but here will be an important weekend to see how much and understand if we’re fast enough.
“I’m very happy about the start of the season because in the three races I was always quite strong and I’ve taken some important points. Now the most important part of the season starts from Jerez and we have a lot of good European tracks. The target is try to fight for the Championship and stay there, and for sure compared to last year the atmosphere in the team is better because that always correlates with the results.”
Rossi has a fantastic record at Jerez, with seven wins and a further five podiums in the premier class alone. The veteran rider also won the 125cc race in 1997 and the 250cc race in 1999.
It’s been a different story for the last two years however, with Rossi and the factory Yamaha struggling at the Spanish circuit. In 2017 Rossi would qualify seventh and finish a disappointing 10th, whilst last season’s race saw him finish fifth following the incident between Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
The action in Spain begins on Friday with the opening two free practice sessions. Qualifying One is scheduled to begin at 13:10 on Saturday, followed by Qualifying Two at 13:35. The race is due to begin at 13:00 on Sunday afternoon.