Valentino Rossi completed another Movistar Yamaha 1-2 on the final day of the Sepang MotoGP Test behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo to cap an encouraging start to the 2016 season.
Rossi clocked a time of 2m 00.556s, which left him nine tenths behind the defending world champion and fourth overall on the combined times from the three-day shakedown, but the 36-year-old was far from disillusioned by the gap to his championship rival.
“[Jorge] feels very good with the tyres and with the bike, he ride more at the limit and he ride better. But it is just the first test. Sincerely, I did a lot of 'dirt work' compared to him, more laps and everything, he concentrated more on the performance. But anyway his lap time is impressive for everybody,” Rossi said.
“So for me and all the other guys, we are behind. We have to understand the way to go closer. He is very good everywhere, he brakes hard, he enters the corner very fast and he is able to ride with good corner speed, so at this moment he is in good shape and he rides the bike very well.
“Now, the tyres are closer [to the Bridgestone] but it is different and there are a lot of points of view, but [the feeling is] more similar to last year,” he added.
“The rear is a little bit better and the front is a little bit worse, compared to Bridgestone. But everything is about the weight distribution of the bike and the way that you make the tyre work, so this is important to understand.”
Rossi has been inspired by the challenges presented this season following the introduction of a spec-ECU and new tyres from Michelin and reiterated his commitment to remain in MotoGP while he still has the potential to fight at the top.
“It's a great pleasure [to be at the top] and is my target because like in 2014, the test and the first part of the season will be important for me to understand if I have enough potential to continue [racing],” he said.
“So it's good to be second here and at the top because I am happy and I want to continue, but I continue just if I am able to fight for the important positions.
“I'm happy about all the test and also I am happy about today because first of all we did a good job and we tried a lot of different stuff. I think we can give some good information for to improve the bike and also I lap in 2' 00.5, which is not so bad,” added Rossi.
“We need to work a lot and the question mark that remains is of the bike, and we will try one more time [with the more radically modified 2016 RC213V] at Phillip Island because the new one was not so bad at the end. Except from that, Yamaha make a good job with the electronics and Michelin make a good job with the front tyre.”
Rossi's former key rival Casey Stoner was highly impressive at Sepang in his role as a test rider for Ducati, finishing the final day in fifth position overall on the Desmosedici GP15 and ahead of a host of top riders, including Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa plus Ducati's official factory riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso.
Asked whether this was an embarrassing situation for those riders behind Stoner, Rossi avoided giving an opinion, saying simply: “I don't know.”
However, he added: “First of all, it is very good to see the lap time like this, Lorenzo, Rossi, Marquez, Stoner, Pedrosa – everybody. This is very good for the championship, so already the level is very high but with Stoner he has another more potential that can come, but he was very fast.”
Rossi's YZR-M1 was fitted with revised winglets after the aerodynamic aid made occasional appearances last season, but the nine-time world champion was unable to report any advantages gained from the much talked about wings.
“I tried and it is interesting because they make different wings, but I don't feel any difference essentially and I prefer the bike without the wings,” he said.
After an early morning delay of two hours due to a damp track, Rossi set his fastest overall lap from the three-day test of 2m 00.556s, which left him 0.976s behind Lorenzo and 0.287s ahead of Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez on the combined time sheets.