Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi said world champion Marc Marquez's stunning lap on the final day of the Sepang test didn't come as a huge surprise given the Repsol Honda rider's renowned qualifying power.
Marquez set the fastest ever lap at the Malaysian track in 1m 58.867s on the RC213V to end the test on top and Rossi, who managed his own personal best Sepang lap in 1m 59.401s to finish fourth fastest, tipped his hat to the reigning champion.
“Today have a very good condition for everybody. But going 1m 58.8, I think he is the first one to go 1'58, and you know, to say it is a surprise from Marquez is not true,” he said.
“We know he is very good in that lap, so it is impressive, and is also impressive the 1m 59.0 from [Dani] Pedrosa. So I think that Pedrosa this year will be more strong than in last season.
“The best race simulation is Pedrosa. I don't see Marquez' simulation, but they say he was a little bit slower, but also he did the simulation with more temperature, so in a worse condition with Marquez.
“Me, Jorge [Lorenzo] and Dani make a simulation in a very similar moment, and the best one was Dani. [It] looks like the advantage they have in one lap, they have also in the first part of the race. So if the race is today, I think that the Honda can win. But we are not very far.”
Rossi, free from the chatter problems that slowed his progress on Thursday, completed a race simulation during which he experimented with some changes to his M1 that he later conceded he 'didn't like'.
“It's true that personally in the simulation we try something for understand in the long run that I don't like a lot, so maybe I can do a little bit better,” he said.
“So it looks like we are not very far away, but compared to the factory Honda we are a little bit more slow. So at the end our performance is positive, but we know that if we want to try to fight, we have to continue to work on the bike.”
Pressed on what he changed for the simulation, Rossi explained: “Swingarm, some mapping for the acceleration and engine braking; it is interesting to understand these things, so we have to decide if we want to do the best performance, but we think it is a little bit more important to understand these parts in the long run.
“Some things worked, some things a little bit less; I did two or three laps where I have to slow down because I have to change the mapping.
“Also, I was quite tired, because it was difficult because I had already done more than 30 laps before the simulation, but the feeling is not so bad,” Rossi added.
“Also Jorge was not so bad in the first part of the simulation, Pedrosa was a little bit faster, so we need to work, but we not very far.”
On the whole, Rossi was happy with his week's work at Sepang, although he jokes that the main big problem remains the same one from last season – the Hondas!
“Today is a positive day. I am happy, because yesterday is more difficult. Today I enjoy a lot more, because we modify the setting of the bike, and the bike turn better, especially we fix the chattering, I was a lot faster than yesterday from the morning, this is good,” he said.
“My lap time is good, 1m 59.4 is my personal best here in Sepang, that is positive. The bike is good to ride, and I think the first test is good. The problem is the Hondas [laughs]. They are a little bit faster than us with the new tyres, but also about the pace.
“[They are gaining on] braking, entry, and looks like they use less the rear tyre. We improve, especially the braking we improve. Looking at the data I can brake deeper, but not enough, still. So we need to work,” he added. “We have some new parts for the next test, so we will see.”
Rossi also took note of Stefan Bradl's lap on the Forward Yamaha, holding it up as proof that Bradl 'likes the Yamaha'.
“Bradl was good on the Open Yamaha, 2m 00.2, the super soft [tyre] is a help for the Ducatis, for Bradl, also for the Suzukis, but anyway, it's a good lap time. This means he like the Yamaha!”
Rossi Race simulation lap times: