Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi claims that although he struggled atop the ’17 challenger, switching back to the 2016 model was never an option.
It was clear as crystal that Valentino Rossi was struggling on top of Movistar Yamaha’s 2017 challenger. Despite his years of experience over new teammate Maverick Vinales, the Italian just couldn’t seem to get the reliability or performance out of the machine as he is known to do.
Although Rossi surprised everyone – and probably caused a few angry gamblers around the globe – with his podium finish in Qatar, he admits that it took longer than he would have liked on the new bike, and that while he felt much more comfortable on the 2016 model, he knew there was no going back:
“At the beginning I felt better with the ’16 [bike] but Yamaha is more happy if I use the ’17. Also, [Vinales] can ride the ’17 so maybe I need more time but I can also ride that bike. For the factory team it’s better to have the same bike.
We have to continue like this. This result is very good for us, both for our feeling and also for the technical side, because we now understand a lot of things.”
– Valentino Rossi
Rossi’s podium finished was the equivalent of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. After so long, something that had appeared hidden, was finally revealed with a flourish – even earning him praise from Yamaha team Director Massimo Meregalli:
“Winter tests were really challenging for him and he’s never given up, together with his team, to try to find the right feeling with the 2017 bike.
Third place is the result of the deep dedication and massive effort he and his crew put into [the Qatar] race.” – Massimo Meregalli
It’s still too early to tell just what this will mean for the two Yamaha riders, as Vinales has enjoyed near-perfect success in his runs, but if there’s any telling, The Doctor will be on the return and in good form sooner than we know.