25 April 2014
Argentina MotoGP: Rossi impressed by his 36th new circuit
“It is designed more for motorcycles. Very flowing, wide and fast. I think we can have good fun” - Valentino Rossi.
Nine time world champion Valentino Rossi will be learning his 36th different grand prix venue - double the number of events on the 2014 calendar - during this weekend's inaugural round at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina.
The Italian is the only current MotoGP rider to have previously taken part in an Argentine Grand Prix, having raced at the former Buenos Aires venue as a 250cc rider in 1998 and 1999.
Rossi won the controversial '98 season finale - when Loris Capirossi collided with title rival Tetsuya Harada - then claimed third in his own championship winning '99 season, during his last race before stepping up to 500cc.
“1998 was unforgettable,” said Rossi on Thursday. “The last race of the year, in the middle of the battle for the championship between Harada and Capirossi, which was very funny! One of the most unforgettable races and unforgettable weekends!
“Buenos Aires was great, but the track was very difficult and different. It was a bit like a street race, with a lot of bumps. The first impression here is completely different. It looks like a new-style track, very modern. Also it is designed more for motorcycles. Very flowing, a good rhythm, wide and fast. I think we can have good fun - that is the first impression.”
Rossi also gave an insight into how he will go about learning his latest new circuit.
“I tried to make some laps around the circuit with the scooter, to understand more or less the racing line. It is impossible to understand the braking points, you have to wait until you are on the MotoGP bike.
“Also we do a lot of work on the computer using the data from the test last year, so already you can understand more or less the gears and the amount of throttle and braking. Just to get an idea.”
The only previous MotoGP laps came during a two-day test in July 2013, attended by Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda), Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda), Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Hector Barbera (Avintia).
However a dirty circuit and poor weather means Rossi is predicting much faster lap times - plus a big improvement in pace throughout the weekend.
“It looks like last year at the test the conditions were quite bad and in the second day it rained so it looks like it will be possible to go a lot faster this weekend,” explained the Movistar Yamaha rider.
“The first approach will be important, but especially the way to improve practice by practice because for sure here from the first practice to Sunday the difference in the lap times will be very high.
“So you must try to go fast, but also understand the places where you can improve day by day.”
Rossi arrives at round three having experienced contrasting fortunes - battling for victory with Marc Marquez in the Qatar season opener, then slumping to eighth after front tyre problems in Austin.
“I had a problem with the front tyre in the race at Austin, but I'd also had similar problems in practice. It looks like we have to improve the bike for make the front tyre work in a better way,” said Rossi.
“The bike is quite good. We know Austin is the worst for the M1, but in general I think we can be competitive. We are working very strongly and we will try something this weekend to improve the front tyre.”
Rossi is third in the world championship standings, but already 22 points behind Honda's reigning champion Marquez.
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