MotoGP

New lap record gives Rossi encouraging signs

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Valentino Rossi returned to the podium fight in Sepang. (Credit: MotoGP.com)

A new outright race lap record for Valentino Rossi in the Malaysian Grand Prix gave the Monster Energy Yamaha rider more encouraging signs ahead of the final round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.

Rossi featured at the front of the field throughout the majority of the weekend, qualifying on the second row for the penultimate round of what has been a tough season for the Tavulia rider.

Rossi made a poor start to the race but quickly recovered from ninth to fifth on the opening lap before going on to set a 1:59.661s lap time on lap three, the fastest lap of the race.

Rossi shadowed fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso for the majority of the Grand Prix and eventually followed the Ducati rider home for fourth.

Speaking about the race, Rossi said “I had a good start, but then on the first straight, some riders overtook me. After that, I was very competitive. I managed to set the fastest race lap, a new track record and made several overtakes until I got close to Dovizioso.”

Rossi tried to make his move on Dovizioso at turn nine but ran wide on both attempts giving Dovizioso the position back. Rossi knew that his Yamaha M1 didn’t have the straight-line speed to stay ahead of Dovizioso down the back straight, and tried everything to pass Dovizioso in the first two sectors in order to use Yamaha’s cornering strengths to escape.

“Together with Dovizioso, we had a good fight. It was very nice. I was a little better in the twisty parts of the track, but Dovizioso was faster on the straights. I hoped that I could be quicker on the last laps, but I couldn’t. We are faster in the turns, but it is also true that we stress the tyres more when we are cornering. So, in the end I wasn’t as fast as I was in the beginning, but I’m happy because the degradation was less than usual,” said ‘The Doctor’ who started using a different braking technique at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Rossi rounded out his weekend by saying “At the end, I’m satisfied, because this weekend I rode well, and I learned a few things. We are making improvements, trying to use all the potential of the M1. In the end, I managed to keep off Rins, but I’m very sorry because I didn’t make the podium, then I would have been even happier. Now we will do our best in Valencia.”

Rossi took his best result since the three consecutive 4th place finishes at Silverstone, Misano and Aragon.

Rossi now heads to the final round of the season in Valencia, a track that Rossi has stood on the podium on eight occasions.

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