2018 has been a difficult year for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP and Valentino Rossi but despite neither showing their true potential due to underlying technical issues with the YZR-M1 - which has seen electronics expert Michele Gadda join the MotoGP™ setup from Yamaha WorldSBK - there are reasons to be positive.
The numbers behind this season give an indication that ‘The Doctor’ is riding – arguably – near to the best he ever has. Race day at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon saw Rossi produce the greatest comeback of the season, making his way from P17 on the grid to finish P8: “We modified the bike a lot. We tried to work in a different way and already from this morning I felt better. My feeling with the bike improved and we could make some adjustments for the race. The race was better than I expected because I wasn’t particularly fast but my pace was constant. I was able to recover a lot of positions because I started from the back of the grid, and able to take some points for the championship so from one point of view it’s better than yesterday.”
In addition, the rider from Tavullia has been the highest finishing Yamaha rider in eight of the 13 races so far this season, including Aragon, and remains third in the Championship – 29 points ahead of teammate Maverick Viñales and Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo, the latter taking three wins this season.
With Rossi also just one podium of last season’s tally and rider coach Luca Cadalora saying the 39-year-old would be challenging for wins every weekend if he was on a winning motorcycle, is it safe to say we’re seeing the best of Rossi in terms of riding?
Well, according to the nine-time World Champion, Yamaha know the issues that need to be fixed. The Valencia test, which signals the start of the 2019 campaign, will give us a first indication as to whether the Iwata factory have solved their issues for next season – and you can watch that test live on VideoPass.