“A great track, but also very difficult”

Valentino Rossi was eager to come face to face in Portimão with his MotoGP, 38th different circuit he races on in Grand Prix and 29th just since joining the premier class. The first day of testing, however, confined him to very weak positions, ending it penultimate, 1 “8 behind the leader and only ahead of Mika Kallio, back this week for an interim at Tech3 after a long inactivity.

The Yamaha rider, who had simply had the opportunity to ride on site in October with a road bike, admits being impressed by the circuit now that he has been able to walk it with his M1, but he concedes that this new ground of game imposes respect and a new challenge in the preparation. It is also the quest for the right settings that lost him somewhat on Friday, to the point of trapping him when he fell with his main motorcycle, then having to embark on a time attack with a laboratory machine.

“We tried something different. We tried to improve the grip, especially at the rear of the bike, but unfortunately I lost my balance and feel, and I couldn’t get into it fast enough. the turns. So it was a difficult day “, admits the Yamaha rider, who admits to having taken a wrong turn: “What we gain we lose elsewhere, so that was not the right way.”

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“We then went back to a more standard bike, and I was a little faster but unfortunately I fell. We then tried to do the time attack with the other bike, only I didn’t have any feelings. on the front and so I was quite slow. I think [samedi] we’re going to go back to more normal settings, and we’ll try to understand if we can be faster. “

An “extreme” height difference

“Different”, “fun”, the Portimão track undeniably appeals to the veteran of the plateau. “The track is great, but it is also very difficult”, underlines Rossi. “Its big difference is the elevation changes. I spoke with the people who made it and everything is artificial: they decided to make on paper a different track from the others, with all these changes in elevation so that it is very special. And they got there, because the height difference is really extreme. You cannot understand it without taking a tour, it can be seen a little from the television but the cameras overwhelm the image a lot. and we don’t quite understand how different it is. It makes the track very difficult. “

“But it’s a nice track, very technical, with very fast corners. A lot of them are blind, so you have to drive from memory. And then it’s very fast, so it’s a circuit that gives goosebumps. It has them all, it is awesome “, he continues. “It’s nice to ride here, because it’s something different, it’s fun and very exciting. The new bitumen isn’t bad. I think it needs to be smoothed out a bit, because it’s very clean, so I think the grip will improve session after session. “

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Largely behind in the championship, Valentino Rossi has no quantified target to achieve this weekend, his only goal being to end the season on a positive note so as not to enter winter in the gloomy dynamics of recent weeks.

“This year has been very difficult. And then I come from a very difficult period, where I made mistakes, I had problems with the bike and I got sick, so there are a lot of races that I have not completed “, sums up # 46.

“When I came back after COVID-19, in Valencia, I unfortunately had a problem with the bike after four laps. However, in the second race, I went to the end. I was not very fast but it’s a starting point. This weekend is therefore very important because I want to do better, try to be more competitive “, he hammers this week. “This is the last race of the season and I don’t have a big championship position, but I want to try to be strong and fast during the weekend.”

Rossi does not want to stop there, and promises to do everything to progress as he closes 15 years of union with the official Yamaha team: “We will give ourselves to the maximum [samedi] because in the morning it will be a decisive session to try to be among the top ten and I hope that we will be more competitive. “

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