Monster Energy Yamaha factory MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi has said that he is confident of his race pace, even if the Italian does have concerns over rear tyre life on his M1.
The Italian ended the opening day third fastest overall, with a best lap time of 1:59.284, on a day which saw the Yamaha riders looking strong in both in time trial and race pace runs. Rossi said that the main concern going forward in the weekend will be that of rear tyre consumption.
“I’ve started well, that’s for sure, and I’m pleased,” said the 40-year-old.
“We’ve worked on the bike and at the end of FP2, I had good pace with the medium, which we might use on the race. Then I put in the soft and seat a good time.
“As usual, despite managing to be quick, I’m worried about rear tyre consumption, particularly at a demanding track like Sepang. I didn’t have any real problems today, but I made only six consecutive laps, on Sunday we need to do twenty.”
When asked about the rear tyre concerns and wider concerns with the 2019 Yamaha, Rossi explained how his issues are exclusive issues for the Yamaha and haven’t plagued Ducati or Honda.
“I was fast right from the start today, so the base is good,” he said. “I felt good on the M1 and enjoyed myself.
“But this isn’t the first time that the Yamahas are strong on Friday, the problem is still acceleration. We’ve improved a little but compared to Honda and Ducati, we’re still a step behind. They exit the turns better and consume the rear tyre less.”
Despite having wrapped up the 2019 title a few races back, Marc Marquez continued to push for improvements and was seen using a rear brake lever on his RC213V Honda today. When asked about it, Rossi said: “I saw, he’s using it on the handlebar, with the scooter-type lever. All the top riders have been modifying their styles in the last couple of years, because the tyres and electronics are different and to exploit them you need to make changes.
“For example, everyone uses the rear brake a lot now and the handlebar lever could be the future.”
News also broke this morning that the Petronas SRT duo of Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli will be getting ‘A-spec’ 2020 M1’s for next year, putting them on the same equipment as Vinales and Rossi himself. Rossi said he thinks it’s a good thing that there will be more riders on the new bike, which will hopefully accelerate development.
“I don’t think much will change,” he said. “I mean Fabio doesn’t have it this year, but Franco does, and who’s the strongest? The positive thing will be to have four M1 bikes that are all the same, as it will help development.”