MotoGP: Rossi Revised & Ripping in Rain

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2011 Assen MotoGP

Since Ducati reported earlier this week that Valentino Rossi would be competing on the GP11.1, an updated version of his MotoGP prototype, many expect the Italian to return to his nine-time World Championship-winning ways this weekend at Assen.

And although the second Free Practice at Assen MotoGP was canceled due to rain and oil on the circuit from the Moto2 class, Rossi and the Ducati team were able to dial in the GP11.1 at the Dutch Assen circuit, achieving the second-overall fastest time.

Rossi finished 0.3 of a second behind Thursday’s Assen FP leader, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team MotoGP) says: “We only had one practice session with the new bike, so it’s very early to make a full verdict, but the first feelings are certainly positive. The GP11 also went well in the wet, but the GP11.1 didn’t just maintain the positive aspects; I actually liked it a little bit more, so I’m curious to also try it in dry conditions.

Unfortunately, they canceled the afternoon session because of an oil leak in Moto2; it would have been very nice to continue-in either the wet or the dry-the work that we started. We’ll have an hour and a half tomorrow morning, but we’ll have to work differently because we can’t make as many changes as we can in two separate sessions.

“Anyway, we’re happy for now. The new gearbox helps with acceleration on corner exits, and the rear of the bike is more stable. Now I can ride more naturally. There are still some small things to improve with the bike’s character, but we knew that and will continue to work on it.”

Valentino Rossi will be back on the Assen TT circuit Friday for an extended free practice session before qualifying for Saturday’s Dutch Grand Prix.

With six of 18 rounds complete, Rossi is currently fifth in the 2011 MotoGP Championship with 68 points, 48 behind the series leader Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda).