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Valentino Rossi happy with changes to the RC211V

Valentino Rossi happy with changes to the RC211V

Valentino Rossi happy with changes to the RC211V

Valentino Rossi last week wheeled out his all-conquering RC211V machine for the first time in 2003, after it had been updated by Japanese mechanics over the winter holiday. In a three day session at Sepang the Italian was able to drop his times by two and a half seconds from his best qualifying effort there in October, spurred on by a thrilling head to head with Max Biaggi in the final ten minutes of the test. As he spoke to, the World Champion´s motivation to hold off Biaggi´s challenge this season was clear, as he revealed his delight at HRC´s response to his demands ahead of the season opener on April 6th.

`In October the bike was impossible to control under braking and I lost a lot of time, so I was struggling to make 2´05,´ explains Rossi. `Obviously, to do 2´02.6 in January is an incredible improvement, but I knew it was possible. HRC brought something good, fixed the braking, fixed the clutch, and the bike was so much better than last year. For me I was lapping okay on the first couple of days, but I have to admit I didn´t actually think it was possible to go one second faster in that final session – it was like qualifying! I was really happy with the test. Not because of the lap times, more because of the feeling with the bike. It is braking like a normal bike now and it is very good to ride.´

HRC will now be evaluating the data from the Sepang test as they build a new, improved version of the RC211V for 2003, a season which Rossi is already looking forward too. `For sure next season will be fantastic,´ he smiles. `Me and Biaggi are very motivated but also Barros, Capirossi and Kato will be strong. All the best riders in the world are in MotoGP now. There will be 20 factory bikes on the grid – all of them four-strokes – so it should be a great season.´

If the showdown in Sepang was anything to go by, it will no doubt be a MotoGP World Championship to remember, although Rossi admits his battle with Biaggi may have to calm down a little over the upcoming tests. `I think we will need to be a little more quiet,´ he laughs. `We want to make it to the last race – it´s only January!´

MotoGP, 2003, Valentino Rossi

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