Valentino Rossi has admitted that Yamaha is “a little bit in delay” with preparations for the new MotoGP season when compared to other manufacturers, because of the absorbing championship climax that involved both its riders in 2015.
The Italian, who missed the opportunity to claim a famous tenth world title by just five points, also revealed that Yamaha will test one new fuel tank, placed in the seating unit of the M1, in Sepang on the first of February in a bid to adapt to the new Michelin tyres' grip characteristics.
As the Japanese factory opted out of testing after the post-race Valencia shakedown while rivals Honda, Ducati, Aprilia and Suzuki adapted their set-ups to accommodate the new regulations in Jerez, Rossi stated his first meeting with the 2016 M1 at Sepang will have added importance as he and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo attempt to ready their machines ahead of the season opener in Qatar.
“At the end of 2015 Yamaha has a problem compared to the other manufacturers. Their two riders were fighting for the championship," explained Rossi, echoing previous comments made to Crash.net by Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg
. “You have to say that this is a good problem. All the manufacturers would like to have this problem but for us we were a bit in delay.
“Suzuki, Ducati, also Honda go to test in Misano during the season with the Michelins and they make a good setting. They make a step. We did a test with the Bridgestone to give the maximum until the end of the season. I think that we are a little bit in delay for the kilometres.
“For the test in Valencia we were not ready. Also we needed a little bit of rest after a championship like this. We needed to be more concentrated and fast to understand the balance of the bike during this test so our test will start officially in the first of February.”
One of the mooted changes was a different fuel tank in the seat unit of the machine, a feature that was raced by Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga in Motegi.
Riders Jorge Lorenzo and Rossi will test the new tank back to back with the more conventional design in Sepang to see which is better. Rossi continued that changing the weight distribution to suit Michelin's new rear tyre, which offers more grip than Bridgestone's previous model, was behind the thinking of the new part.
“The situation is that Yamaha did the new tank and bike to try and understand how to use the Michelins that we used from 2008. Moving the weight distribution for the Michelin tyre. But they don't know, like us. It was just one idea. Now for the first test in Sepang it will be very, very important to decide the way, to see if the 2016 prototype is better than our correct bike.”
Fresh from sampling the '16 spec electronics in Valencia in November, Rossi said he felt the new system was akin to the one he used in 2008. However, he remains confident in the capabilities of Yamaha's engineers, stating it "isn't a big problem", and instead feels adapting the M1 to Michelin's tyres will provide a greater challenge.
“For me it's normal that all the riders complain – complain isn't the right word – but the new electronics are a little but worse compared to our normal one. The Yamaha engineers work very hard to improve the acceleration of the bike. In fact our electronics system works very well. When you start with the other ECU the first impression is a little bit worried because it's different and a bit worse.
“For me it's not a big problem. Everyone is on the same level and I think that we are strong enough to adapt the new system to the bike. We are a bit more worried about the tyres. From that point of view the question mark is bigger how the new tyres match with the different bikes. This is important to understand the level for this year.”