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Valentino Rossi admits Yamaha MotoGP team-mate Maverick Vinales’ session-topping lap time on the second day of 2019 pre-season testing was “unattainable” for him.
Vinales left it until the closing stages of Thursday’s running to become the first rider of the Sepang test to dip beneath the 1m59s lap barrier, outpacing nearest rival Alex Rins by more than half a second.
His lap time of 1m58.897s fell just short of the unofficial track record set by then-Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo this time a year ago in pre-season testing.
Rossi meanwhile was sixth-fastest, 0.728s off the pace set by Vinales.
“Obviously I used a very old tyre that did not allow me to make the lap time I could have done,” said Rossi.
“I think I could have done better, maybe a tenth, and I would have been in the top three.
“It’s a shame, because everyone [ahead of me in the standings] did a time attack, but Maverick was unattainable. I could never have done a similar lap time.
“But anyway, we are not doing the races today, but we’re trying to find a good feeling.”
Rossi confirmed on Wednesday that Yamaha had chosen to only bring one type of engine to Sepang.
He added that Thursday’s running was spent honing the M1’s engine braking and electronics, as well as sampling a new type of chassis aimed at improving rear grip.
Rossi was satisfied with Yamaha’s overall direction, but added that he does not feel the manufacturer is yet on an even keel with Honda and Ducati.
“In my opinion we are now a little closer to the others, but it is still not enough,” said Rossi.
“Today Ducati has been very strong; I don’t know what tyres they were using but they were very fast.
“It seems we are still missing something, but we are moving in the right direction, by a little.”
Vinales added that Yamaha must “keep its feet on the ground” because he has yet to attempt a full-race simulation during the test.
The rider added that the 2019-spec M1 still has the “DNA” of old Yamaha bikes in terms of its performance in high-speed corners.
“The direction we have taken with the engine brake is a bit the one I asked for,” said Vinales.
“Now I’m better on the corner entry, the engine and the electronics have improved a lot.
“We still have to improve in the details, but I’m very happy with the work Yamaha has done this winter, I can push and ride my way.
“If we get a bit more smoothness in the power delivery it would be very positive.
“In the high-speed, flowing sectors the bike behaves very well, I think it has recovered the DNA of the Yamaha.”
“We have to improve with a full tank [of fuel] and do 20 [consecutive] laps.
“We need to know how we’re doing when we don’t have grip; that’s why we’re trying to simulate these conditions”.
Vinales says he will do a race simulation in Friday afternoon’s running.