Rossi responds to rivals | Valentino Rossi Blog

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rossi responds to rivals

Valentino Rossi would have made his rivals stand up and take notice after a much-improved performance in Free Practice at the Dutch GP.

The nine-time World Champion, who traditionally struggles to get up to speed during Free Practice and Qualifying, topped FP1 for the first time since Indianapolis last year. The Italian showed that this was no fluke as he continued his impressive pace in FP2 to finish third on the combined timesheets, his best performance on the opening day of practice since the Italian GP in 2014.
Rossi knew he had to improve his performance over the first two days at the Motul TT Assen if he was to have any chance of maintaining his lead in the Championship standings, and he did not disappoint. Right from the word go in FP1 he appeared to have the bit between his teeth and his very first flying lap put him on top of the timesheets, proving that you can teach an old “GOAT” new tricks. He continued to improve throughout the session to finish on top and send out a message to his teammate Lorenzo that he would not be having it all his own way in Assen.
In the afternoon it was more of the same, and although Rossi spent most of the session working on his race set-up, he still managed to post the third fastest time and improved by over 0.6s from the morning session.  The “Doctor” found himself just 0.202s back from Dani Pedrosa at the top of the timesheets, but more importantly, ahead of the man who trails him by just one point in the Championship standings, his teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi showed at the Catalan GP that he could match the race pace of Lorenzo as long as he doesn’t give him a head start, as he has done in the last four races.
Rossi had set his sights on qualifying in the top five this weekend, and was pleased with his first days work: “It’s a good Friday! I am happy because we worked well during the practice and we found some interesting solutions.
The first priority was to decide between which chassis we would use, the new or the standard one, and I felt good with the new one, especially with my pace and my lap times. This morning I was in front and also this afternoon, to finish in third is a very good performance, especially as the first 6 or 7 are very tight and close in lap times.
While Rossi enjoyed his best opening day in over a year, his teammate Lorenzo struggled to get to grips with the new Bridgestone tyre and finished down in sixth. Lorenzo won’t be panicking just yet, after all he was seventh after the first day of practice at the Catalan GP, and he went on to completely dominate proceedings in the race for the fourth time in a row.
Although the double MotoGP™ World Champion did admit that he was a bit frustrated by his start to the weekend: “It has been a little bit worse than I expected, as the last four races have been very good from the beginning. But that sometimes happens, that you don’t feel great. Here Bridgestone brought a different tyre, without the soft edge they normally bring, so for me it is not easy to ride with this tyre. But this is the tyre that everyone has, so I must work more to improve the bike. I am not feeling great with the bike, I am uncomfortable in a lot of areas, so we have to improve that.”
Interestingly Lorenzo was not as pleased with the new chassis as his teammate, despite spending FP2 using it on both of his bikes: “I don’t believe the chassis is much better or much worse, it is quite similar. We wanted to try a different a set-up and if we used the new and old one back to back, it is easy to get confused, hence why I used two new ones this afternoon.”
One man who was happy with his chassis set-up today was Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion was using his 2014 frame, mated with his 2015 engine, swingarm and electronics package in an effort to cure the woes that have been bothering him all season. It seemed to work, as he finished in second place ahead of both of the Factory Yamahas and only 0.139s behind his teammate Dani Pedrosa. Marquez definitely feels that this hybrid RC213V is a step in the right direction, as he tries to regain the feel he had with the bike last season: “I feel quite good today, I did a normal Friday like last year. I was able to ride with the used tyre with a good pace, and was consistent. Still we need to improve, but I was able to ride well and I enjoyed it on the bike.”
What about Pedrosa? The Spaniard topped the combined timesheets on the opening day of Free Practice for the first time since Sepang last year, setting the fastest ever lap by a motorbike around the TT Circuit Assen in the process. He has clearly recovered from his arm pump surgery earlier in the year and it appears he is now a force to be reckoned with once more: “We started well today. Above all, we wanted to take advantage of the track being dry and in good condition, because here in Assen the weather is always a little unpredictable and so it was important for trying out tyres and bike setups. We have made a good start comparing different exhausts and working on setup, so tomorrow we will aim to continue in the same way.”
So, the questions remain, will Rossi be able to conquer his qualifying demons tomorrow, or will the weather throw up some extra surprises as it did last year? Can Lorenzo adjust to the new tyre in time, or will Honda claim their first pole position at Assen since Casey Stoner back in 2012? There is only one way to find out!
Check out the combined MotoGP™ times from Thursday at the Motul TT Assen; while FP3 kicks off at 9:55am local time on Saturday, with Q1 taking place 14:10 and Q2 at 14:25.

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