Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi wasn’t overly concerned about finishing second in the first practice session for Saturday’s Dutch TT in Assen, Holland. The reigning world champion lost out on opening day honors to LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet by a scant .005 of a second, but no one expects the Frenchman to repeat his performance.So Rossi will go into Friday confident that he can improve and riding the momentum of his last corner victory in Barcelona two weeks ago.”Today is a good day for us, because I was fast from the beginning and I’m very happy because the modifications that give me a good feeling in Barcelona, work also here and is an important test, because is completely different track, different temperature and especially last year we had a lot of problems here,” Rossi said.The problems he spoke of ended when he crashed out of the race, his only race crash of the season.”And this time is like we start with a good base, like we learn from the mistakes of last year and I start already with a good bike. Now have to start to work seriously on the bike and start to improve four or five points where is possible go faster, but I’m so happy about the start. Today is like a warm-up. We try a lot of different things. Now we have data. Tomorrow we try to put all together and we go.”Rossi confirmed that he doesn’t have a new chassis, but has constantly modified the settings of his Yamaha YFZ-M1. Whether that will get him to the ultra-confident ‘zone’ he’s reached in the past is up to debate.”You arrive at the right mental situation when all is okay around you and especially the bike,” he said. “Like last year the bike was fast and the tires are good and we find the right setting earlier in the season, around China. This time we need a little bit more, because no test [the winter testing season was severely curtailed]. So when I arrive in Barcelona I already start to ride like I want.”Is also an extra motivation for demonstrate that is possible to stay in front. And now we go in a very important period of the championship, because is four races in five weeks. Different track, difficult track and also some difficult weather conditions on the paper. So I think we are ready for a fight.”Was Rossi ever surprised with his achievements, he was asked?”No, I know that if I’m able to ride like I want, I’m fast,” he said. “But after four or five races with a problem, also your safety in the brain start to fight. What’s happened compared to last year? I become stupid.”
Rossi a Close Second on Day One
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.