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Sub-100% Rossi starts strong in Sepang

Sub-100% Rossi starts strong in Sepang

Fiat Yamaha rider third fastest despite small crash and existing injuries.

MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi went from a fall opening the curtains to a fall in the curtain-raising test of 2009 on Thursday in Malaysia, although the Italian was far from struggling at the first of three days in Sepang.

Rossi held the fastest lap on day one for a considerable time as he resumed work with the 2009 Yamaha M1, relegated to third on the timesheet only by late laps from Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner. All this came after a small crash in the morning –something that the Fiat Yamaha man put down to track conditions rather than physical problems from the cuts to his left hand and foot.

”I am very happy because I was able to ride the bike today, despite the stitches in my hand and foot, and I was fast. I am not 100% because of the pain, but I have no problem to ride,” said Rossi upon the conclusion of his time on track.

”I had a small fall, when I was riding very slowly. It was not so wet, but some patches of the track are lacking grip and that one especially seemed to have none at all!”

Rossi stopped just before 4pm local time after putting in 31 laps of the Sepang circuit, conserving his energy but still having time to get acquainted with the Bridgestone tyre compounds brought to the test. Notorious for his running of the hardest tyres on the grid, the 29 year-old has had to adapt slightly to the uniform rubber used for the 2009 season.

”We are adapting our way of testing to the new tyre rule and it is not so bad so far, even though we have more work to do,” explained the rider undertaking his second preseason with Bridgestone rubber. “The bike needs to be gentler with the tyres now; normally I prefer harder tyres but from now on we’re going to need to be ‘sweeter’ with them. For sure it will be good for the show, because everyone will be starting from the same level with tyres.”

With cost-cutting talk focusing on engine life in recent weeks, Rossi and Yamaha did their bit to make a saving on day one of the test. They used the same engine as at the Jerez test last November, although -having exhausted its mileage- a new motor will be used on Friday.

”The engine is better and I feel very comfortable with the new chassis,” was the six-time MotoGP World Champion’s verdict of the bike itself. “Tomorrow we will try something new with the electronics and we will also have to change the engine.”

Rossi experienced slight swelling and pain in his finger, but can be expected to be able to ride on all three days of testing after his midweek mishap at his home in Italy.

MotoGP, 2009, Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

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