Valentino Rossi admitted morale was ‘very low’ after his Spanish Grand Prix came to a conclusion, where he had started, in just 17th place.
But the Monday test at least allowed the Italian and his Petronas Yamaha team some ‘shy smiles’ as Rossi lapped within 0.8s of factory Yamaha pace setter Maverick Vinales for 12th on the timesheets.
It was nothing to celebrate, but that position was higher than Rossi had managed during the grand prix weekend.
“After the race and the whole weekend, my morale and the morale of my team was very low, because we have to try to be faster. Today things were a bit better. We sometimes had a small smile at some points,” Rossi said.
The nine-time world champion, who has only finished in the points once in his four Petronas appearances, completed 73 laps of the Jerez circuit as he sought to improve his feel and performance on the latest M1.
Like team-mate Franco Morbidelli, Rossi had a new front fender and new carbon fibre swingarm to try, plus some electronic settings.
“We have a desperate need to improve the pace, the feeling with the bike, because we are struggling very much during the weekend,” Rossi said. “We finished the test with a good feeling, because I am able to ride in a better way and I improved my pace a lot.”
Earlier in the Jerez weekend, Rossi explained that the softer construction rear tyres present in MotoGP for the past few seasons are not a natural fit for his riding style.
But the #46 again emphasised that it’s down to him and the team to adapt to the tyres.
“I don’t want to say that the tyre is too soft for me, because at the end, the tyre is the same for everybody, so the others are able to go with this. And if we want to race in MotoGP, we have to manage this and we have to try,” he said.
“I don’t feel comfortable with the bike, with my riding I am a bit in delay, and this also creates a problem in acceleration, because a lot of time I have a problem with rear grip in acceleration, I am not able to exit from the corner fast enough.
“So we work a lot on the setting with David [Munoz, crew chief], front fork setting, also the weight distribution for braking and entry in a faster way, to brake deeper and enter in the corner with more speed. This is the target, and we improved.
“Everything I tried today was a small step. And also Yamaha brought something that maybe is not very big, but anyway is a help for me, and I’m happy, because after the weekend we were quite down, because we were struggling. So we’ll see, but today the feeling is a lot better.
“The end, it was good test.”
Rossi cautioned that it was only a test, but repeated he was “happy” with the day.
“It’s always difficult, because at the end it’s a Monday test, no? So you have different conditions, different ways to work compared to the weekend. And especially, we will race in Le Mans next week in different weather conditions,” he said.
“But sincerely, I’m happy about today because I feel better with the bike, and I was able to ride in a better way, more precise, faster in the fast parts, and we found something interesting.”
Before heading to Le Mans, Rossi will continue his usual training with the VR46 Academy riders at the moto ranch in Tavullia. But he believes his current problems can only be solved by working specifically with the MotoGP bike.
“We work a lot at the Ranch especially, but also when we train with the motorcycle in Misano or the small tracks, especially about the first lap, about the battle, about the fight, body-to-body battles,” Rossi explained.
“We always work, but for me, the problem is my speed.
“I need to improve the speed and I need to improve the feeling with the bike. This weekend was very difficult and we know that it’s difficult to fight for the victory, but we need to be stronger and we want to be stronger than this, for sure.
“But we have to work, especially with me and the M1. So I need to go faster.
“But today was not so bad. Was a good test. We found something interesting. So we hope that we can bring this to Le Mans and try to understand if in Le Mans we can be stronger.”