Valentino Rossi finished day one of the Malaysian MotoGP in twelfth position, having been shuffled down the dry FP1 order when rivals fitted soft tyres, then denied the chance to improve by an afternoon storm.

But the wet conditions did allow the Italian to work on the handling woes experienced in such conditions during the recent Motegi round.

Rossi would be sixth fastest in the afternoon, albeit 1.431s behind Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso. Team-mate Maverick Vinales was the top Yamaha with fourth place in both sessions.

"We were quite lucky to ride the bike in the dry because today the forecast was very bad," began Rossi, sat behind a small desk in the Yamaha hospitality. "This morning we had 20-minutes where we could use slicks and push. My feeling in the dry is not so bad. We have to work, but I was quite strong."

Rossi had reached fifth place heading into the closing stages of the session.

"It's very difficult to understand because in the last ten minutes a lot of riders put the soft rear and improved the lap time a lot. But before that, I think except Marquez - who was very strong - I was not so bad with my speed.

"Then in the afternoon it was full wet and an interesting practice because we worked a lot to try to improve the bad situation that we had in Japan with this bike. And was coming better. I was able to improve my lap time and I arrived in P6.

"But my feeling is not fantastic. I don’t feel comfortable with the bike. I don’t have enough rear grip and I cannot push at the maximum. So we have still to work. The situation improved a bit but we are not strong like last year [in the wet] still."

How did the bike feel generally compared with the pre-season test here?

"Different. Very different, because we [change] the bike a lot. But for me the bike that I have now, I feel more comfortable with compared to the bike at the test. Like in Phillip Island. I suffered a lot of understeer [before] and with this bike my riding is more natural. I feel better."

However, Rossi is not yet fully convinced that the present M1 should form the base for the 2018 bike.

"I think that our current bike can be a base for next year, but I'm not sure," he said. "We need to look at our potential this weekend and also during Valencia and also in the Valencia test. But I'm sure anyway in Yamaha they are working hard and will bring something for next year."

Turning to last weekend's epic Phillip Island race, in which Rossi finished runner-up to Marc Marquez, The Doctor made clear he is still good friends with countryman Andrea Iannone despite commenting that a pass by the Suzuki rider had allowed Marquez to escape.

"We have a good relationship. I understand his racing style!" Rossi smiled. "I did some great battles with Iannone - Phillip Island 2015, Valencia last year, Phillip Island... What I said after the [Phillip Island] race, I was not speaking just about Iannone.

"I fight a lot also with Zarco and Marquez. But Iannone made the overtake in the hairpin, the right moment that I was behind Marquez, and at that moment I lose my chance to fight for the victory. But it's like this."

Rossi added that the race had reminded him of some classic two-stroke battles earlier in his career.

"For me the style was like a lot of races with the smaller bikes in Phillip Island. I remember more 2000 and especially 2001 that was a great battle with the 500cc with eight-nine bikes I think. With Haga, Barros, Biaggi, Capirossi.

"So was very similar to that style of racing because when you have a bigger bike it is usually a bit different."

Rossi must now hope for dry conditions in FP3 if he is to break into the combined top ten and avoid taking part in Qualifying 1.


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