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Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) has so far watched new teammate Maverick Viñales dominate the timesheets, but the points system for the 2017 MotoGP™ World Championship remains the same - they’re only awarded on race day.
The first test of the season didn’t make bad reading for the rider from Tavullia, as he finished the three days in P6 overall and right behind one of Sepang’s most successful riders, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team). Despite teammate Maverick Viñales topping the timesheets, Rossi left Sepang saying it had been challenging – but that they’d found something positive.
Twelfth on combined standings in Australia, Phillip Island left Rossi’s side of the Yamaha garage with a little more work to do before Qatar – determined to get to the desert venue with more solutions than questions. The nine-time World Champion was 0.921 off his new teammate Down Under, with the result backing up the gains needing to be made ahead of lights out for the first race, and more worry setting in.
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#AusTest Rewind: Recapping 3 days of action Down Under
After a tough Day 1, Day 2 at Losail saw the ‘The Doctor’ crash – and then bounce back in stunning style to move well up the timesheets and see some payoff in the laptime and feeling with the bike. But, as Day 3 dawned, the Italian couldn’t find the same feeling as Day 2 and wasn’t sure why – ending up outside the top ten once again. On combined standings, however, the number 46’s Day 2 best kept him in P6 – ahead of a thrice-crashing Marquez but behind Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Viñales, who was four tenths faster and again at the top of the timesheets.
The ‘Doctor’ made the point in Qatar that Viñales’ pace was proof that the Yamaha package has a lot of potential – saying although he was worried after a difficult winter, it was simply that Viñales’ side of the garage had been able to unlock more of that potential, sooner.
The number 25’s impressive pace certainly makes good reading for Yamaha – and with more track time before lights out, time has not yet run out for the yellow side of the box to bridge the gap. Next time on track is the race weekend proper, with Viñales' pace then getting a true test as the first points of the year are awarded - and experience could well count for more...
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