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Rossi’s Struggles Continue at Jerez Test

After finishing 10th in yesterday’s MotoGP event at Jerez, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi began testing at the same circuit along with the other MotoGP riders earlier today in hopes that he could determine why he struggled so much during the race.

Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse.  Despite putting in 62 laps today, Rossi could only manage the 21st quickest time … nearly 2 full seconds off the lap time of the quickest rider. That rider was his teammate, which always adds “insult to injury”.

In the process of testing today, Rossi tried the harder carcass front tire used last year, hoping this would solve some of his problems. He also tried a new chassis. Nothing seemed to help, and Rossi was left with the conclusion that his Yamaha “does not have a good marriage with the tires.” He needs to figure something out quickly, because the next race is less than two weeks away at Le Mans.

Here are the results from the 2017 Jerez MotoGP test.


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32 Comments

  1. Gary says:

    Sounds like an engineering “breakthrough” turned out to be an engineering “breakdown.” Time to revert to last year’s bike until they exorcise the bugs.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I think Vinales would disagree. The problem for these conditions at this track is obviously Rossi himself. He just can’t find a happy place. That is just the way it goes sometimes. Yet two weeks from now at LeMans, he might be one of the fastest riders.

      • Gary says:

        I don’t know, brother. Vinales finished sixth in the race.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Vinales finished 6th in the race, but he killed it in the practice referred to in this article using the stiffer tire with the quickest time of the session. Both Yamahas have also been very competitive in the previous races with Vinales winning two of them and Rossi on the podium each time. The bike seems solid. Rossi just can’t get the tires to work like he wants to at this track under these conditions for some reason. But like I implied, Jerez might be the only place this happens the whole season. There is nothing to suggest (yet) that Rossi has a serious issue that will continue to hamper his performance at other venues.

  2. Norm G. says:

    now that the circus is back to Europe, me thinks it’s time for Michelin to reactivate the “wiley and elusive” MOBILE BANBURY. fresh ingredients go into one end of the lorry, proper 17″ donuts come out the other, all while track side. overnighting in special tyres is soooooo 20th Century.

    DHL, YOUR FIRED…!!! (Trump voice)

  3. mickey says:

    An interesting piece about the tires I read on another site, and if you read it you will see Bridgestone had the same issue when they were the spec tire:(and an interesting bit about Rossi voting for a bad tire to handicap his competition)

    If the difference is so small, why was this tire being revisited? Once again, Jonas Folger had the best explanation. “When they gave us the front tire that we use now, I didn’t feel so much difference. Most of the riders were saying, it’s more stable, some had problems, some not, and in the end they decided to continue with this front tire. But I think also in the winter tests, nobody was pushing like now during the season. And that was affecting the decision to continue with the current tire.”

    The situation is reminiscent of the less stiff front tire Bridgestone brought to the preseason Jerez test back in 2012. Then, Casey Stoner immediately rejected the tire, saying it was far too soft under braking, stopping him from turning into the corner as he wished. The rest of the field liked it, however, and the tire went on to be used for the first half of the season, over the objections of Stoner and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.

    By the Barcelona test, the rest of the field had changed their mind, agreeing that the tire was indeed too soft. On a race weekend, with much more at stake, riders were pushing much harder and running into the limitations of the front tire. Bridgestone remedied the situation shortly after.

    Much the same appears to have happened with the Michelin front. At Valencia, the riders all preferred the tire with the new profile and the stiffer construction. After the winter break, when riders were still finding their feet and getting up to speed, they were going a little softer, and the less stiff tire offered better feedback. Now they are racing again, they are bumping up against the limitations of the tire, and wanting more support from it under braking.

    Democracy in action

    The decision on whether to switch to the stiffer construction will be taken based on the opinion of the majority of riders. If most of them agree they prefer it, then the stiffer construction tires will be available from Mugello. If most of them don’t like it, they will stick with the current, less stiff tire. If there is no clear decision, then the tire will be tested again at the Monday test after Barcelona. Given the feedback I heard from riders after the race, that looks to be the most likely outcome.

    The trouble is, of course, that we can’t truly trust the feedback we heard. The riders who like it may have a strong preference because they believe it is better, or they may have a weak preference because they believe it can’t be any worse than the tires they currently have. On the other hand, the riders who vote to stay with the current tire may decide to do so not because they prefer the current tire, but because they fear that others will benefit if Michelin bring the stiffer front tire.

    The same thing happened in 2012. Valentino Rossi, knowing he was in for a second year of struggling with the Ducati, voted for using the softer front Bridgestone for the season. After he left Ducati and returned to Yamaha, he admitted he had voted for the softer front knowing that it was a worse tire. The front tire was the least of his problems, and so handicapping his rivals with a worse tire was just one more strategy aimed at helping him to be competitive. Sometimes, for a racer, making your rivals slower can be just as effective (and much easier) than finding ways to be faster.

    Rossi’s woes

    Whatever the tire, it didn’t appear to help Valentino Rossi. Yamaha had brought a new chassis to the test, which worked for Maverick Viñales, but Rossi felt did not do much for him. Viñales believed it offered a bit more rear grip, while Rossi found no benefit from the new frame. The test did provide some useful ideas for improving bike setup for the Italian, but the new chassis had not made a difference.

    Viñales finished fastest at the test, while Valentino Rossi finished way down in 21st. In itself, those times are deceptive: Viñales started the test around 10:30, when the track temperature was relatively low and the surface had a lot of grip. He set his best lap time about an hour later, still well before noon. That was also before Valentino Rossi even took the track. The Italian started his first laps shortly before noon, when track temperatures were starting to rise. He never really had the right conditions to chase a fast lap.

    • Tim C says:

      Suggestion – as I read this I got the the idea this might be copied. I don’t mind the copying as it’s a good read and you’re not posting it as your own (at least in terms of an actual blog post or whatnot – gray area I guess) – but maybe in the future use quotes and include link for those who’d like to read the whole thing (the clue I had was the section headers and googling that plus a couple keywords I found the piece):

      https://motomatters.com/analysis/2017/05/09/2017_jerez_motogp_test_round_up_the_tire.html

      • mickey says:

        Tim I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was to link to another site so I just said I read it on another site. Not sure of protocol.

        I also thought it was good enough info/commentary to be shared considering the conversation going on here.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “Not sure of protocol.”

          (double) VIOLATION…!!! 🙂

        • Tim C says:

          Yeah I’ve mentioned that before when pasting links – no one (e.g. Dirck) seemed to have issue. I’d say the regulars here aren’t likely to be pulled away from this site and not come back so it’s probably not a huge deal.

        • MGNorge says:

          Dang, and I was going to quote you, Mickey! 🙂

          • mickey says:

            (single) VIOLATION MG lol

          • Norm G. says:

            see that’s what’s great about this site, the gents have a sense of humor.

            that and i get to work on my material, gonna take this show on the road.

  4. Vrooom says:

    Hoping for Val’s sake that it’s just Jerez. Zarco was 9th, though about halfway between Vinales in first and Rossi in 21st (hard to say that). There’s no way he’s leading the championship and is all of a sudden 2 seconds off the pace, that’s impossible to believe. On the other hand, Vinales is a monster, Marquez is close, and both Dovi and Lorenzo got their Ducati’s in the top 6 with Dovi the faster rider.

  5. 5229 says:

    It is entirely possible that what we’re seeing from Rossi is his age kicking in. While he is only 38,hardly an old man. But, old for this level of competition. His 2 point lead in the standings couldn’t be more precarious. Those riders right behind in the standings are faster. And in the case of #93 ,faster and more consistent. We see this all the time in sports. Case in point,Peyton Manning. The difference between his play in 2014 compared to 2015 is substantial, a sharp drop off. Hence he retired. Seems to happen just like that, all of sudden can’t compete at that very high level. But the good news is MotoGP is becoming more and more competitive. Look at the list:Marquez,Vinales,Lorenzo,ZArco,Crutchlow,Pedrosa,Dovi,Ionne,ETc. and of course Rossi. Back when Rossi was winning his championship’s he did not have to fight this amount and or level of competition. It has caught up to him and has for years. But, he still is one fast you know what and has to be reckoned with on Sunday. Blaming the bike is not the answer. Particularly when others are riding it well. Zarco and Vinales come to mind.

  6. Jeremy in TX says:

    I don’t see and reason why LeMans should be a repeat of Jerez. Rossi had no issues with the first races. Now, if track temperature is the primary problem, then there may be cause for concern as summer approaches. For the moment, I don’t really think it is time to worry yet. So it didn’t work at Jerez. That happens. They seemed to work very well in the first three races.

  7. mickey says:

    Rossi was left with the conclusion that his Yamaha “does not have a good marriage with the tires.”

    Hmm his bike seemed to like the tires fine for the first 3 races, enough to give him the lead in the championship.Enough to give him front row starts, and podium finishes.

    Everyone had the same choice in tires. Some managed, Rossi didn’t. Suck it up Val and move on to Lemans. At least you are not still riding a Ducati lol

    • Brian says:

      I don’t doubt it. For one thing these bikes are notoriously finicky, highly customized to each rider, and he’s had issues all year despite the decent race results. For another, Jerez (as I understand it) has become a one-off due to pavement condition, so it seems entirely possible that the “marriage” is really not working there.

      In short, sounds like he’s just describing the problem, not whining or making excuses. Hard to hold that against him. Should Dani just shut up and “suck it up” when the tire construction is such that he can’t get them up to proper temp?

      • mickey says:

        Yep, it’s all part of racing. Sometimes your tires work for you, sometimes they don’t. Everyone chooses which compound tires they are going with from the same stack of tires by the same manufacturer. IF 5 people are running the same combo and 2 end up on the podium and one ends up 10 th, there is something more at fault than just the tires. Whenever someone doesn’t win, they pull out the excuse book. Lorenzo was a master at it. Sometimes the other guy is just faster, feels better, his bike is set up better, he is more aggressive, he gets the breaks on the course, whatever. Rarely do you hear them say ” so and so was just faster than me today” it does happen, but it’s rare.

      • john says:

        “In short, sounds like he’s just describing the problem, not whining or making excuses.”

        The same statements from Casey Stoner would have been met with accusations of him being a whiny cry baby.

        • Scott says:

          It always works like that.

          If you like a guy, he’s simply explaining what happened.

          If you don’t like the guy, he’s making excuses.

          In either case, he really doesn’t give two s***s what a bunch of internet commenters think.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “If you like a guy, he’s simply explaining what happened. If you don’t like the guy, he’s making excuses.”

            and there it is…

    • Neil says:

      That’s an excuse. That is just another way of saying, “The new kids are faster!”

  8. VLJ says:

    When Valentino Rossi is two seconds off the pace, you know he isn’t going for a single fast lap. This was essentially nothing more than a tire test for him, and what he learned is that these Michelins don’t work for him at Jerez with these higher track temperatures.

    Vinales discovered the same thing yesterday, to such a degree that Michelin is inspecting his and Valentino’s race tires to determine whether there were any anomalies.

    The point being, none of this necessarily means a hill of beans going forward. Different track layouts, different surfaces, different conditions, different sets of supposedly identical-spec tires—each weekend represents a whole new challenge.

    • mickey says:

      Perfectly stated VLJ.

      • Bubba says:

        VLJ, Rossi is falling off already. We covered this already.

        Sometimes I think you and Mickey share the same perspective, if not the same chair.

        • VLJ says:

          Bubba, yes, we did cover this already. Rossi was on the podium all three races before this last one, yet here you are again, braying on about how age has caught up with him, and he’s falling out of contention. It’s the same story every year with you and the other anti-Rossi fanboys, and every year he’s right there at the end, proving you wrong.

          Ponderous.

          • Tim C says:

            “F–kin PONDEROUS” – C. Kasem

          • Bubba says:

            …and that would make you a Rossi n_th_gger!! LOL

            You give reason to go online and read posts from wannabe motorcycle journalists. Great entertainment if not so insightful.

            Yes, Rossi was ponderous at the last test but I’m sure he gave it his all.

            Wait for it…Mickey will jump in soon.

  9. Pacer says:

    Not just Rossi, it is the 2017 M1 vs Michelin. Vinales may deal with it better, but yesterday’s results show serious concern for Yamaha.

  10. Trpldog says:

    Knobbies.