Rossi tops Sepang test despite tyre woes
Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi of Italy listens to his mechanic during a pre-season test at Sepang circuit outside Kuala Lumpur, February 6, 2014. — Reuters pic SEPANG, Feb 28 — Valentino Rossi topped the time sheet on the last day of MotoGP testing in Malaysia today, despite he and Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo voicing frustrations with lack of traction in their rear tyres.
Nine-time world champion Rossi came in with 1 minute 59.999 seconds, the same time as rival Dani Pedrosa of Honda, whose teammate world champion Marc Marquez has missed this round’s testing due to a broken leg.
Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati was third, just 0.068 seconds behind the top two.
Rossi, who finished fourth yesterday, had earlier said he was struggling to get the maximum from his Yamaha with the new specification Bridgestone tyres at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit.
“The main thing at this test is to adapt the M1 (bike) to work well with the new Bridgestone tyres. We’ve worked a lot and tried many things but at the end of the day we are not very happy,” he said late yesterday.
“We’re suffering because with this tyre our bike becomes difficult to manage. We don’t have much that we can do.”
Spaniard Lorenzo came in seventh today, 0.620 seconds behind Rossi and Pedrosa. He was ninth yesterday — over a second down on that day’s leader Pedrosa.
Yamaha factory racing team manager Wilco Zeelenberg, however, said that the two-time world champion was “disappointed.”
But Zeelenberg refused to state if the tyres were a concern for Yamaha’s race competitiveness especially after Honda riders seemed to be able to throttle up with the same tyres.
“I cannot answer that because we are in Sepang, and this tyre does not work well for us here, and at the Phillip Island test we’ll see how it is for us there. Then Qatar is again another situation,” he said.
Riders come to the hot, humid and tight-turning Sepang circuit early each year for two three-day test sessions.
Another three-day session follows at Phillip Island from Monday, followed by another at Qatar’s Losail circuit.
Marquez, who at the age of 20 last year became the youngest rider ever to win the world title, said Thursday that he would miss the Phillip Island testing after suffering a broken leg during training last week in Spain.
The 21-year-old aims to recover before the new season kicks off at Losail on March 23. Malaysia will host the championship on October 26. — AFP
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