Having struggled throughout the wet Japanese MotoGP weekend, culminating in a big highside during the race, Valentino Rossi arrives in Australia hoping more than ever for a dry event.
But if Thursday is anything to go by it will be a typical Phillip Island weekend – sunshine between heavy rain showers, with a big drop in the temperature bringing a chilly end to the day.
“This is another track, another type of grip, another temperature but especially we need to understand the [weather] conditions. Here it always changes a lot. I hope for the dry and we see” confirmed Rossi.
“Let’s see. Last year was a good race. I was strong on the Sunday with good conditions. In February at the test it was very difficult for me. I was very slow [12th overall]. So tomorrow we will try to understand our level.”
Given the likelihood of wet weather, Rossi was pressed on the 2017 M1’s ongoing troubles.
“For us it’s difficult to understand very well, because with the Bridgestone tyres we were very strong, but also last year with the Michelin the bike was good [in wet],” Rossi explained. “I was always quite fast in the rain. So we need to understand why.
“In Motegi we basically struggled always, from Friday to Sunday. For sure the Japanese engineers and also all the team have some different ideas, some different stuff [to try here] to understand. Different weight distribution etc. But I hope it will be dry!”
The nine-time world champion confirmed he is currently working only on set-up.
“New parts, no. Set-up, yes,” Rossi stated. “It would be interesting to understand also with more temperature, but it looks like the forecast here is to be cold.
“So, we are in a difficult situation now, especially in the wet. In the dry we have some problem but we can be a bit more competitive. So this is another weekend and we will try the maximum.”
Will you try the 2016 chassis again?
Turning to his healing leg fractures, which were given a stress test with his two falls at Motegi, Rossi added:
“I was lucky that I didn’t make the leg worse because in the race it was a big crash. I have some pain in my shoulder. I hope that on the bike I won’t feel it a lot. For the rest I’m okay.
“For me this track is a bit easier physically. Especially compared to Motegi.
“But at the same time you have to stay very quiet [calm] because this track, especially in mixed conditions, is dangerous because it’s very fast. So you need to keep attention.
“But physically it’s a little bit easier because it’s more flowing.”
Rossi, who missed Misano due to his leg fracture and has fallen twice in 2017 races, has now dropped out of mathematical contention for the 2017 title
Team-mate Maverick Vinales is still clinging on to a slim title chance, sitting 41 points from Honda’s Marc Marquez (and 30 from Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso) with three rounds and a maximum of 75 points remaining.