Valentino Rossi has pronounced himself 'happy' with his performance during the first round of MotoGP testing at Sepang, despite his injuries preventing him from completing a race simulation.
Initially a doubt for the three-day test after suffering a fall at his home, one that left him with stitches in his hands and feet, Rossi shrugged off his ailments to challenge Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi for superiority over the course of the test.
Eventually being forced to settle for the second quickest time behind Stoner, the reigning champion was pleased with his pace on the new Fiat Yamaha M1.
“I am leaving this place feeling happy, because we've made a good start,” he said. “Everything went well: my pain is less, the bike is good and I am feeling better and better. We finished everything we wanted to do on the bike and the setting and the rhythm is quite good. The lap time is fast so we have made a good start.”
Although his injuries meant he was unable to complete a long run as planned, Rossi insists he will be back to full strength by the time he is back on track at Qatar.
“We didn't do the long run, but actually we didn't need to. Without my injury maybe it would have been possible, but in this situation we decided to leave it. My injuries are getting better each day because they're only cuts and they're healing fast. I don't think that they made much difference to my speed here and by the Qatar test I will be back in perfect shape.”
Rossi is now looking forward to the next test at Losail, where he will be looking to find some of the pace that eluded him during last year's Qatar Grand Prix.
“I did the fastest lap today with the hard Bridgestone tyre, so it means that the bike is good. For sure we need to improve some more but since this year we have less testing, this performance has been very important. The first test of the year is always difficult, even if you trained a lot in the winter, so I am happy!
“Qatar will be interesting, because last year we weren't strong there, but then last year the bike was not yet ready when we went to the first race in Doha. I am really looking forward to the next test there.”