Franco Morbidelli says racing against Valentino Rossi in MotoGP “is an extreme source of motivation” while he was impressed by the pace produced by rookie and fellow VR46 academy graduate Francesco Bagnaia at the Sepang test.

The Petronas SRT Yamaha rider became a consistent top ten member on the timesheets of the final day of the Sepang test with a early quick lap of 1m 59.141s to see him end the day in eighth place.

The lap time put him fractionally ahead of Rossi, who set a best effort of 1m 59.155s, and as a rider supported by Rossi’s VR46 academy he feels competing against the nine-time world champion can help him improve in the premier class.

“It is good, fighting with Vale is always nice,” Morbidelli said. “As I say it is an extreme source of motivation not just for me but for everybody.

“Having a legend in front of you or on track with you gives you strength and gives you motivation to do better. So, it just feels good.”

Yamaha at the Sepang Shakedwon Test

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Rossi, who has joked about needing to slow down his young academy riders, sees a second VR46 academy member join the MotoGP grid for 2019 with last year’s Moto2 world champion Bagnaia stepping up with Pramac Ducati.

Bagnaia caught the eye by ending the final day in Sepang second fastest, just 0.063s off leader Danilo Petrucci, which Morbidelli is keen to congratulate when the pair return to training together next week.

“Pecco was super fast here, what can I say,” he said. “Congratulations to him he is an impressive talent. Impressive, in his time attack he did an extremely good job so I will congratulate him on Monday at the gym.”



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