Rossi: Races will be more difficult

Valentino Rossi has predicted a tougher time for MotoGP riders in 2016.

The Italian was speaking after completing the pre-season test in Qatar on Friday.

Like his Yamaha team-mate and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi used the the final day of the test to complete his first race simulation with the new Michelin tyres and standard ECU system.

“In the end today was a good day. Unfortunately I had another small crash in the same corner [as Wednesday], but I’m quite happy about the last two hours,” Rossi began.

“We improved the setting of the bike, I improved my pace and did a good time attack. That was one of my targets and especially the race simulation was not so bad, because I did 15 laps with good pace.

“For sure the tyre moves and slides, but you can push and stay on the rhythm, so this is good.”

The introduction of new unified software has put an end to ‘adaptive strategies’ – the automatic fine-tuning of engine output to maintain a pre-set level of wheelspin around corners.

Riders can now only use buttons on the handlebar to adjust things like traction control when they want to compensate for tyre wear or changing grip conditions.

“The long run was important because you don’t feel a lot of difference [with the new electronics] if you do four or five laps, but after yes,” Rossi explained. “So the races will become more difficult for the rider. You have to do a lot more work. So you have to play more with the bike compared to last year. I think it can be interesting.”

The lap times on display at Losail this week point to the likes of Ducati, Suzuki and Honda now being much closer to the speed of the Yamahas.

“I think in these three tests the other bikes improve a lot, because at Sepang the gap was big,” Rossi said. “Now we are all closer and also the Ducatis are very fast. So I think it will be very tough next week. The good thing is that we are competitive and the bike is good with the Michelin.”