Valentino Rossi made a strong start to the San Marino and the Riviera of Rimini Grand Prix weekend today, taking third overall in combined times for the first two free practice sessions.
The local hero was enjoying Yamaha’s new seamless gearbox for the first time in a race weekend situation as he tackled the Misano World circuit under hot and sunny conditions. Rossi completed the morning session in fourth, just over half a second from the front then stepped up the pace in the afternoon session, shaving just under quarter of a second off to finish in third, 0.258 seconds behind Marc Marquez at the front.
Rossi commented on today’s practice sessions:
“It’s always special and a great feeling to ride here. Today was a good Friday for me, my performance was not so bad. This morning I was already quite fast but especially this afternoon my pace was very good. I was fast from the beginning to the end of the practice and we are very close to the front. Yamaha has made a fantastic job with the gearbox; it is a great help for the riders. It’s not a big advantage with lap time but the bike becomes a lot easier to ride, more stable in acceleration and less wheelie. You can concentrate more on riding, it is less demanding so I think for the race it will be a big help.”
Jorge Lorenzo was quick to find a similar pace to teammate Rossi, wrapping up day one in fourth position. The defending world champion was also using the new seamless gearbox as he worked to find an optimum set up for the track. The morning session saw him finish in third, 0.426 seconds from the front and then improve in time in the afternoon to finish 0.295 seconds from Marquez in fourth position.
Lorenzo was optimistic as well:
“We are having some problems to find the best set up on the bike because I felt a little bit worse than the last years here but we are trying to improve it. The new gearbox is working well and I really like it. I’m confident we can go a little faster tomorrow.”