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Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi Find Their Rhythm in First Day of Qatar Test

Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi Find Their Rhythm in First Day of Qatar Test

Morbidelli ends opening day of Qatar Test seventh; Rossi 14th on PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team debut.

A dusty and windy Losail International Circuit greeted the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team riders as the first test of 2021 got underway today in Qatar. Franco Morbidelli ended the day with the seventh fastest time whilst Valentino Rossi’s first day on track with the team saw him go 14th fastest. 

Morbidelli was the first rider from the Malaysian squad to take to the track, after waiting just over 90 minutes for the conditions to improve, and immediately placed himself inside the top-ten. The Italian, who spent his 61 laps reacquainting himself with his bike and accumulating kilometres on fresh engines, posted a fastest time of 1min 55.174secs, just 0.487secs shy of the quickest rider around Losail International Circuit.

Team-mate Rossi, who took to the track aboard his new PETRONAS Yamaha SRT liveried YZR-M1 for the first time, also joined Morbidelli in the top-ten for the majority of the day’s seven hours. After completing 54 laps, testing a new chassis in a few of them, Rossi ended the day with a fastest time of 1min 55.584secs – 0.897secs shy of the quickest rider.

Track action will resume at 2pm local time (7pm MYT) tomorrow for Morbidelli and Rossi, with the second day of Qatar test coming to a close at 9pm local time (2am MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

"It’s been a nice day and it’s good to be back at work. I felt good, especially late in the night when I really started to feel like myself back on the bike, I had again the feelings that I know from this bike and I think we are already on a good level. Of course there are things to improve, but we are not too far from the top guys so I’m happy with that. I’m also happy that this bike is the same but different, it feels the same as last year but we are faster on the straight. Tomorrow we have some electronic upgrades to test, so let’s try to improve again. It has been a great first day at the office!"

Valentino Rossi

"It was a little strange to begin with because the winter break was longer than normal, so at the start the MotoGP bike is always really impressive and is so fast after three months of not riding it! It was the start of a new adventure today and I was very excited for my first day with PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. It was a good day, my pace was quite good all day and I enjoyed it a lot; at the end of the day my result was not fantastic but we worked well and the atmosphere in the team is really good. Today we basically worked on the standard bike and we haven’t tried a lot of new things, only a very few laps with the new chassis, that we want to keep testing in the following days. We still have in front of us a long testing plan, to help us improve."