For the past two MotoGP seasons, it was unusual to see Valentino Rossi in the top five, regardless if it was a test session or an actual race weekend.
And due to his struggles those two years aboard the Ducati Team GP12, much sensational speculation began, many saying Rossi simply lost it.
But for 2013, VR46 returns to the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1. And during the first day of preseason MotoGP testing at Sepang International Circuit, Rossi proved he can still be fast.
This was after he posted the fourth-quickest time Tuesday in Malaysia. The nine-time World Champion piloted the YZR-M1 donning the iconic #46 to a best of 2:01.584 in 56 laps.
After leading a majority of the morning session, Rossi would finish 0.427 of a second behind the day-one leader, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, and 0.419 of a second behind his teammate, the reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “I’m very happy about the first day of testing with the M1. After two seasons away I was able to come back on the bike and remember the good feeling I always had with it. I am also happy because I was quite fast from the morning.
“We worked on the settings to make some improvements and we made some good steps. In the afternoon we started to work on the new parts for the season. It’s just the first test but the potential is high and I am in a good position, I am in fourth place but not far from the other three guys. I am very positive that we can improve over the next few days but I’m happy with the start.”
Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director) says: “On Vale’s side he was able to understand today that he still has the speed, I could see he was very satisfied, which for us is a great thing. I think he was really looking for this test because as he said many times he had some doubts to settle.”
Attached above is a video highlighting Valentino Rossi’s performance aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 at the first day of preseason MotoGP testing in Malaysia.