Petronas Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi returns to Austin this weekend after a two year hiatus, having stood on the MotoGP podium on his last visit.
While preparing for his own battles around the 5.5km American layout, the Grand Prix veteran was also quick to praise the potentially incoming talent of Superbike rider Toprak Razgatlioglu - with reports that the current WorldSBK title leader is in line to test the Yamaha M1 at the end of the season. The Turk, however, was not the only production class rider to have caught his attention.
“I like a lot Toprak because he's a very modern rider,” Rossi said from the COTA paddock on Thursday night. “He is young, is very physically prepared, and especially have a great bike control - I think that this is a strong point. Is very interesting that he try the M1, because I think that he can be competitive and also, he can be competitive for MotoGP because he's still young and he have a very good potential.
"This year the battle with [Jonathan] Rea, is very fun, very great to follow because I think they are two great Superbike riders, at the top, and the battles are always good to follow. I think that is a great shame that Jonny didn't have the chance to try MotoGP or to pass in MotoGP, maybe five, six years ago, because I think he ride very well and he have the potential for be strong in MotoGP, but maybe also now.”
Returning to the matter in hand, the 42-year-old is looking forward to his American adventure due to the Texas track’s ability to throw up a more unusual race weekend than the European calendar often allows.
"I really like Austin, and the last time we raced there it was a great weekend for me. I was very strong in both qualifying and the race, and I finished on the podium," Rossi said.
“In this track, the rider is very, very important,” he explained. “Because this track is really, really full of particular sections, where all the different riders can give a different interpretation of the layout. Because you have a lot of different places with 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 corners in a row, where everybody can adapt his riding style and decide different lines to follow.
“This is not easy because usually the modern track, more or less you have one line. This one you can decide. And after is very important, the mechanical part of the bike, because the track, the layout is very difficult and is also full of bumps, usually. So you need to have a good bike not just for ride and turn but also to absorb the bumps.”