Valentino Rossi has confirmed his intention to continue competing in MotoGP until 2020, restating there is no great rush to sign with Yamaha. He will do so “when we are ready – we have time.”

Perhaps a sign that the Italian has become weary of fielding questions on his future was the short, curt manner in which he responded to inquiries regarding the issue on Friday evening after the second day of testing in Qatar.

“We’re still speaking but I think yes,” was his brief response when asked whether he will sign with Yamaha for two further years, meaning he would be competing until he is 41 years old.

So when can we expect an announcement? “When we are ready,” he said. “I think that anyway we are not in delay. We are on time. We have time. I think it will not be a big problem.”

Turning his attention to the final preseason outing in Qatar, Rossi felt hampered by severe front tyre wear, which prevented him from pushing for a competitive time on Friday evening.

The 39-year old endured a tough night, when he could only manage the eleventh fastest time on the leader-board, 0.73s back of pace setter Andrea Iannone.

The topsy-turvy nature of Yamaha’s preseason led Rossi to conclude that the factory has found no great cure for its woes that hampered its end to 2017. “I think we are more or less at the same level,” he said.

“The position is not fantastic in the end. In the time attack I had some problems with the front tyre. I could not do it. I’m quite behind. But the pace is not so bad. It’s average. We worked a lot also today and we tried to understand.

“We also have problems, especially with the front tyre after some laps. I started to lose some grip and it looks like in this condition for us it would be difficult to finish the race with a good pace. We still need to work tomorrow and try to improve this problem.

“The general feeling here is better than Thailand. It’s a little between Thailand and Malaysia. Malaysia was the best for me about the pace and everything. Thailand we suffered more.

“Here is in between. Like I said, my pace is not so bad. The problem is the front tyre. The tyre that I like it’s difficult to arrive at the end. We need to improve this aspect. This is the main issue.”

In spite of the issues with Michelin’s front tyre, Rossi still insisted his feeling with Yamaha’s 2018 chassis is much improved. Those age old concerns of electronics, which are holding the M1 back on corner exit, were mentioned once again here.

“I feel good with the chassis because the bike turns better than last year, but for me we have to work a lot on the electronics. In the acceleration we suffer,” he said. “It’s difficult, especially with the used tyre, exiting from the corner.

“It looks like the other manufacturers are better from this point of view. I think we have to work hard.”


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