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Qatar MotoGP test II: Rossi on the pace with personal best lap

Valentino Rossi completed his best ever lap around the Qatar circuit on Thursday as he pushed his Yamaha M1 over the 1’54 barrier for the first time.

“It is the first time in my career that I did a ’53 in Qatar,” Rossi confirmed “so this is the best lap, and this is very, very important. I think that I can do ’54.2 ’54.1 but I did 1’53.9, so it’s good.”

Enjoying a consistently strong day with good time attack runs, the Petronas rider sat comfortably in-sight of the top-five across the seven-hour session. The fourth day of testing saw him analyse a new front fender, front fork and rear shock settings as well as conclude final chassis comparisons, while his eventual fastest time, a 1’53.993 set on his 38th of 52 laps completed, left the 41-year-old ending the penultimate day of testing eighth.


While the solo time was impressive, Rossi is aware that there is plenty more required if he is to fully challenge when the season starts in anger in a fortnight’s time.

“I had a good feeling today, especially as we were able to work a lot on the bike. We found some new solutions and I did a good time attack. Everybody is very fast for sure but we improved our position and especially I improved a lot my race pace. I did some good ‘54s and I am faster than yesterday, so it’s a positive day.

“In the time attack, and especially for the race, we have to improve,” the veteran continued. “I have to improve a bit but on the other side we are happy because we work well today and we improve the feeling, I’m able to enter faster in the corner, and I also have more grip in acceleration. The race pace is not so bad, the top, top guys have still something more, but I am a lot more close, and this is crucial for the race.”

When discussing the 2021 chassis - made available to all three factory riders - Fabio Quartararo believes, while they have made a step forward, they are still lacking compared to the 2019 spec, but does the Italian agree?

“Yes, I agree with Fabio, but the new chassis I like, because last year we suffer very much for lack of turning, so we weren’t able to keep enough corner speed, that was always our strong point so we suffer very much last year. With the 2021 chassis, this I think improve very much so this is very positive. The ’19 was still a little bit better under this point of view but I think that it is very difficult to come back at that bike because maybe that bike have also some other problem and now anyway, we have something different.

“Now it looks better, I feel better on the bike, I ride better. And for these two reasons we are able to improve the lap time and especially the race pace. It’s very important because at the end, the engine is frozen from last year and we were very, very worried because last year the difference in the speed was a lot.

“The important thing is that Yamaha work in the right direction, also with aerodynamics. We improve the top speed, and especially we reduce the gap, compared to the top, because last year was very big and in the race was always difficult. Our speed is not so bad. We lose 10km/h from the Ducati but anyway the difference is less than last year. So it will be important on the fast tracks.

“I checked a little bit the pace and it looks like Maverick is very strong, also Quartararo is faster than me. And after that you have a lot of riders - Franco is fast, also the Ducati factory and Suzuki - but in the race pace we are very similar, so it’s not so bad. I’m not very far from the top. I’m happy because in these two days I was a lot more competitive compared to the end of last year. We have some more stuff also to try tomorrow and we’ll see.”

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