Valentino Rossi believes the outright speed of team-mate Maverick Viñales points to the overall strength of Yamaha’s 2019 M1 after his own attempts at a late, fast lap time at the MotoGP test at Sepang were undermined by what he thought to be a bad rear tyre.

Overall the second day of testing in Malaysia saw further positives for the Monster Yamaha factory team, as Viñales narrowly missed out on breaking the outright circuit record. Rossi was competitive too, his 1m 59.625s time enough for the seventh quickest time.

And while the veteran Italian appeared reluctant to heap praise on Yamaha’s efforts toward its 2019 package, his feedback suggested their testing programme is advancing well. Then there was the small matter of Viñales’ late lap, 0.527s quicker than anyone else on track.

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“I feel good with the bike and my pace is not so bad,” said Rossi, 40 years old later this month. “Also with the used tyre I did some good laps. Unfortunately in the last ten minutes I saved one tyre for the time attack but the tyre was bad. I do half a lap and I have to stop.

“If not, I think I can improve a bit. Anyway, congratulations to Maverick because he did a very good lap time. Is it a record or no? So, it remains Jorge [Lorenzo’s outright lap record]. Anyway, it’s important for us because it means the bike is good.”

Afternoon temperatures continued to soar on Thursday, making short runs exhausting, never mind longer stints in the saddle. Rossi joked he needed a drop of 20 degrees to pursue a 15 lap stint.

He never did more than four consecutive flying laps through the day, but still focussed on making the rear tyre work with many laps of wear.

“I use very much the used tyre but I don’t make a long run because, fuck, it’s hot! We always stop, re-stared, and we always use the [same] tyre and this is something [with which] we suffer a lot last year.

“It looks like we improved a little bit. But I think we still have to continue to work in that area. To be sure you have to do a race, 20 laps, or at least 15. But I need 20 degrees less!

“But anyway was also quite positive. We continued to work like this, with the old tyre, [and focussing on] rear grip. For me it was not so bad. Also today we found something quite good."

In which area, he was asked. “All [areas]. We work on the engine for the acceleration, for the engine brake, also for the electronics, for control the slide. We have something in the chassis different to try and improve the grip - so all the package.”

 

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