Valentino Rossi started positively Tuesday at the Sepang pre-season MotoGP test, finishing ninth overall. Things looked promising, especially since he was the highest-placed Ducati rider.
But things began descending quickly for the nine-time World Champion in Malaysia for the second of three pre-season MotoGP tests. When he arrived at the track on Wednesday morning for day two, he had flu-like symptoms.
Rossi’s illness prevented him from participating in the test, and he rested up for Thursday’s third and final session.
Thursday wasn’t so progressive, though, as Rossi struggled with setting up the Ducati Team GP11. Valentino Rossi completed 59 laps, but only posted a 2:01.469, making him 11th fastest. His time was 1.804 behind the MotoGP test session’s leader, Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro MotoGP) says: "We can’t be satisfied with this test because we didn’t reach our goals, which were to finish close to the top six and especially to reduce the gap to the front. Instead, we’re 1.8 seconds back, and our rhythm is also lacking. After the first day, we thought we could do it.
"We had started well and were able to make the bike work with the hard tires, which is good. After that though, we didn’t take steps forward. Although we have some good ideas for the electronics that I’m optimistic will solve those problems relatively easily, I’m not as confident about the chassis setup. We tried hard, but we haven’t yet managed it.
"I’m able to brake hard, but I’m still having trouble in mid-corner. It was definitely a disadvantage to only ride two days instead of three because we had to rush at the end and try many things in order to understand as much as we could. We were prepared for that possibility, but it started to drizzle, making it impossible to push.
"There could be some good solutions for the future, but we weren’t able to confirm them. This circuit hasn’t traditionally been favorable to the Ducati. The next test is in Qatar, where the track is different, so we’ll see if we can go faster there."
Rossi and his Ducati team will be at Qatar March 13-14 for the final pre-season test sessions of 2011 MotoGP, which will take place for the first time at night. The season opens at the Losail track there March 17-20.