Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi predicts riders will have a tough time in the closing stages of MotoGP races this year.
The move to the control ECU in 2016 removes much of automatic adjustment riders had grown accustomed to from their factory units, and coincides with Michelin’s return as the control tire supplier. Rossi completed a race simulation on his way to fifth on Friday’s final day of pre-season testing in Qatar, the scene of the first grand prix in a fortnight, and said the changes became evident late in the stint.
“The lap time is not so bad and more importantly I did a race simulation and I was strong,” the defending Qatar winner said. “I think that it will be quite tough, because it seems that from the first test the other bikes improved a lot, but now we are there at their level.
“A lot of riders can be fast for the first grand prix, but we are competitive. I think the last five laps of the race will be difficult for everybody, but the bike is good to ride, so we’re able to keep a good pace.”
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo capped his pre-season by topping the times by more than half a second. Lorenzo also covered a race distance on the final day, and worked through Michelin’s range of slick tires.
“It was a very positive day,” he said. “We improved our lap time a lot and we did a complete race simulation, that has been very good because I did a few laps in the 1m55s even with not the best front tire. With the softer one, with which you could be much faster, we had some graining.
“This tire will probably not be available in the race weekend, because Michelin is planning to change its tire allocation to one tire that’s a little bit harder and one that’s not so hard as the one I used for the simulation.
“With the intermediate tire on the front I could have been even faster, so I’m happy with the fastest lap time and the simulation and we are ready to be competitive for the race.”