Rossi: Saturday laptime "important" after pre-season woes

Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi says his best lap on the second day of the final pre-season test at Qatar was "important" after he had been struggling to get to grips with his new MotoGP bike.

Rossi: Saturday laptime "important" after pre-season woes
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing

While new teammate Maverick Vinales topped last year's post-season in Valencia and was then quickest at Sepang and Phillip Island earlier this year, seven-time premier-class champion Rossi largely had to do with playing second fiddle to the Spaniard.

According to Rossi, he and his crew were "very sad" after Phillip Island - and the first day at Qatar was underwhelming still, the Italian lamenting that he was "still not very fast".

However, Rossi's fortunes improved on Saturday as a 1m54.732s lap late in the test session left him second-quickest behind Vinales.

"We did some big difference in the weight distribution of the bike, but the bike remains the same," Rossi explained.

"From the first test with the 2017 version, I never had a good feeling with the front, and I suffer very much - I suffer in Valencia, I suffer in Sepang, but especially in Phillip Island, I was very slow. And we come back home from Phillip Island very sad because we don't find nothing.

"So I have to say thank you to Yamaha because they support me a lot, they arrive here with a lot of different ideas to try - and at the end we arrive and I feel better.

"This laptime is important because in the other test I was struggling always too much."

Vinales still has room to improve

Rossi, however, was still behind teammate Vinales on Saturday, the Spaniard topping the timesheets with a 1m54.455s effort.

Vinales said: "Nice to feel fast and also on the pace. I think today we did another step, I feel quite comfortable on the bike, the team is working good. Tomorrow we just need to try a long run, and let's see how the tyre drops.

"At the moment, you know, we have a good level grip, but still we are not 100 percent satisfied. We improve a little bit [on corner entry], that's why my pace has been also much more constant, because I didn't run wide many times.

"Right now I feel good, I think still we can improve a little bit the entry of the corners, I can push a little bit more  - but anyway the laptimes were quite fast, so I'm quite impressed that the bike is working good."

Asked if he would want to complete his MotoGP 2017 pre-season sweep with a fastest time at Qatar, Vinales said: "Doesn't matter. The race weekend is the race weekend.

"But anyway it feels that we have a really good pace, we have a good feeling on the bike. I'm quite confident that we can do a good race."

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont

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