Rossi's testing pace deficit "gone" after Qatar

Valentino Rossi's deficit to MotoGP's pacesetters has "gone" after the Qatar season-opener, believes his crew chief Silvano Galbusera.

Rossi's testing pace deficit "gone" after Qatar
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Podium: race winner Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing, third place Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing, Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Third place Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

After a difficult winter in which Rossi consistently lagged behind new Yamaha teammate Maverick Vinales, the seven-time premier class champion managed to open his 2017 campaign with a podium finish in Losail, coming home third behind Vinales and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Rossi credited the turnaround to changes his Yamaha team made in Friday practice, which he believes saved what had been a “critical” situation.

Galbusera said that the Rossi camp had been “worried” about the Qatar race on the evidence of the 38-year-old’s practice showings, but was relieved to find the gap to the frontrunners was much smaller than expected.

“There’s no point in denying it, the day before [the race] we were worried,” Galbusera told Gazzetto dello Sport. “Instead, I leave [Qatar] refreshed after this first race.

“All the distance [to the leaders] from the tests is gone. At the end we were missing more or less a tenth, not a second. This is the normal situation, not what we saw in the previous days.

“We weren’t starting in the dark, because we knew we had gotten better, but we didn’t know how much. At the end we were nervous, because we didn’t expect the tyres to last.”

Rossi’s earlier pace deficit was partly down to the Italian’s lack of feeling on Michelin’s 2017 tyres, which had been slowing him down on corner entry.

Galbusera admitted this meant Rossi was having to ride “as if he was on eggshells” in the final part of the race, but says harder rubber in the next two races should make life easier.

“The front tyre for Valentino is too soft and moved a lot,” said Galbusera. “Especially at the end [of the race] he had to ride carefully, as if he was on eggshells.

“In Argentina, [Michelin] should bring a more rigid tyre, so I expect the tyre to work better, and also at Austin. We are curious to see what happens in the next races.”

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