Rossi Speaks About Sepang, Yamaha, Viñales At The Monza Rally

Valencia may be the last race of the season for most MotoGP racers, but it is not for Valentino Rossi. The Italian always has one final event to compete in before the winter break. As a keen rally fan, Rossi always takes part in the Monza Rally, an exhibition race in which many top stars from several different two- and four-wheeled disciplines compete.

As it is an event which takes place entirely on four wheels, I do not cover it on MotoMatters.com, a website devoted entirely to racing on two wheels. (Indeed, so little do I care for four wheels that I have not owned a car for nearly 15 years, relying solely on motorcycles for transport.) However, as the Monza Rally takes place in a more informal atmosphere, there is a chance for Rossi, and some of the others around him, to speak a little more freely.

Our friends over at GPOne.com did go along to the Monza Rally, and provided very full coverage of the event. They used that opportunity to speak to Valentino Rossi, as well as Yamaha team boss Maio Meregalli and Rossi's friend and Sky VR46 team boss Uccio Salucci about the way the private Yamaha test at Sepang had gone, and how Maverick Viñales had been received in the team. Those conversations revealed some fascinating insights.

Lifting the veil

There had been virtually no news out of Yamaha's private test at Sepang, apart from an Instagram post by Viñales saying he was "very happy". There were some unsourced and unattributed times posted on Facebook, which had both Rossi and Viñales posting times in the very low 2'00, with Rossi the fastest of the two by a few hundredths of a second.

At the Monza Rally, both Maio Meregalli and Valentino Rossi gave a bit more detail about the results of the test. The weather had been favorable, Meregalli told GPOne, allowing the Yamaha riders two full days of testing at the track. More interestingly – and providing more hope to the team and Yamaha fans – Meregalli said that they had found some solutions to the problems they had at Valencia. "I don't deny that there were some doubts in Spain, but in Malaysia we dealt with those. Both riders had the same material available and chose the same," he told GPOne.

Rossi was a little more guarded in his comments. He agreed that the Sepang test had helped sort out some of the issues found at Valencia. "The situation is a lot clearer now. We were able to go into more detail with the 2017 M1 and I have to say it has greater potential than the 2016 bike," he told GPOne.

The trouble with teammates

Ahead of the event, Rossi also appeared on an Italian radio station, where he spoke of his relationship with former teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and with his new teammate Maverick Viñales. His relationship with Lorenzo had deteriorated at the end of 2015, after the pair had a heated argument. But Lorenzo had come in to Rossi's garage after the Spaniard's last race with Yamaha at Valencia, and told the Italian he had always respected him. "It was a nice moment," Rossi said.

As for Viñales, Rossi joked that he had hoped the Spanish youngster would be a smaller problem than Lorenzo, the man he replaced, but testing had shown that was not going to be the case. "After the first tests, I realized it would be more or less the same." Rossi would have preferred someone older, like Dani Pedrosa, he said, but it was not his choice to make.

Maio Meregalli also had some words on Viñales, and told GPOne he had been left impressed by the Spaniard. "I knew he was fast, but I didn't expect him to be so quick immediately. He could well be as fast as Lorenzo, but better in terms of his character," Meregalli said. Viñales calm and methodical way of working had made an impression, as well as his outright speed.

Will seeing a fast young rider take the place of a fast older rider as teammate to Valentino Rossi cause problems for the Movistar Yamaha team? Meregalli was not too concerned. The team had managed a very difficult situation throughout 2016, he said, and did not expect the relationship to be as bad as between Rossi and Lorenzo.

At the moment, however, all this is still idle speculation. We will see the unadulterated truth at the first official test of 2017 at Sepang. There, all parties – including Maverick Viñales and Jorge Lorenzo – will be able to speak freely.


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Total votes: 90
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Comments

Haha the first time I read the headline, I thought that Rossi was going to speak about Sepang last year

Total votes: 78

for the season to start. Your articles keep my 'engine' primed for the next season. Ah these winter months are so bleak! And on another note I am amazed your main mode of transport is just a motorcycle! I can't even imagine that here in the States. 

Total votes: 75

I have done it myself for a several years at a stretch. Climate, work circumstances and simple desire to ride are generally the controlling factors. As long as there is no ice , I am good into the 20 degree F range in Winter and ride regularly in Summer with temps in the 90'sF. A good bike with good utility , and good riding gear can take you anywhere you want, anytime you want...Looking forward to next year and seeing Vale take one more crown...hopefully he corrects the mental miscues which cost him the 2016 Title...

Total votes: 62

I am very interested in learning more about MV and his character. Maragalli's comments are the first clues to that. Most of the other top riders have been covered so thoroughly we feel like we actually know them, but MV is still sort of a sillouette to me, even though he has been a top rider since he entered the series. Good to read the M1 has made a step forward. Up until now it appeared that only HRC has moved the dial.

Total votes: 56

I saw the full interview on that Italian radio
Pure entertainement! If VR weren't a full-time racer he should really consider stand-up comedy. Good jokes about ex-girlfriend who moved to a superior class, F1, something he wasn't able to do.... his Sunday diet, perks of being single aiming at the 10th title that did not work out....
On the more serious side: I did not see all that confidence about the new Yamaha. He just said that the bike has more potential than the 2016 one.... I don't find
that very reassuring.
Also on MM he expanded a bit more. He praised him and said he is the best of this new generation of riders "with the elbow down"
And praised Vinales of course.
And I'm slightly fed up that everyone seems to concentrate on how sour their relation will.be in the next couple of months. It's boring and ludicrous.

Total votes: 74

 

you read my mind  i do think your'e right on the last sentence 

And I'm slightly fed up that everyone seems to concentrate on how sour their relation will.be in the next couple of months. It's boring and ludicrous.

 
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Total votes: 74

When I was younger, i.e. in my 40's, I thought VR was an obnoxious teenager. Now I'm 60, and I have huge admiration for his wit and intellect. Too bad most people here in the USA have no idea who he is. 

Total votes: 70

It's hard for me to get used to calling him Maio instead of Massimo.  Why the change?

Total votes: 45

Massimo is Meregalli's formal name, but nobody uses it. Everyone addresses him as "Maio". Similarly, Gigi Dall'Igna's given name is Luigi, and he is called such in official press releases and all official Ducati Corse communiciations. However, nobody ever addresses him as Luigi in person, everyone calls him Gigi.

Total votes: 53

...freedom of speech is not a constitutional right in MotoGP yet.. ;)

Total votes: 74

"I knew he was fast, but I didn't expect him to be so quick immediately. He could well be as fast as Lorenzo, but better in terms of his character," Meregalli said.

Given some of the drama associated with Vinales and his team relations in the lower classes I wonder if this is a second language mis-choice of words as it seems fairly critical of Lorenzo.

Total votes: 56

I've followed his career closely. In 2012 while he was fighting for the title with 5 wins he started to loose his chances by inconsistency and bike failure. The braking point was him leaving the team in Malaysia while he had WDC in his grasp. He came back just to loose his second to Salom. I think that he realized than that the key to success is consistency and hard work. The rest is history and I guess we will see him changing elbows with MM in a year or two if not sooner. That said I hope that Lorenzo and Rossi won't let them easy :)

Total votes: 50

The Dani Pedrosa comment was said in jest, and was meant in fun, a joke.  He knows MV is fast and was having fun with it.

Had just read about Linda Morselli moving on to Alonso.  Hilarious.  He called that one right.

I still remember being at Laguna one year, maybe the first year back for GP in the US.  There was this EXTREMELY fit lady, standing on the pit lane in boots, and short shorts, extremely tan, very beautiful.  I said "who in the hell is that?"  Having a rider's pass, being around some industry folks I hear in an Italian acccent "That's Vale's girl."  Figures I said.  It was Arianna Mattuezzi. He has had some lookers.  I thought he'd marry Marwa.  

 

 

Total votes: 50

"Ahead of the event, Rossi also appeared on an Italian radio station(link is external), where he spoke of his relationship with former teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and with his new teammate Maverick Viñales. His relationship with Lorenzo had deteriorated at the end of 2015, after the pair had a heated argument. But Lorenzo had come in to Rossi's garage after the Spaniard's last race with Yamaha at Valencia, and told the Italian he had always respected him. "It was a nice moment," Rossi said."

Nice to hear.. :´-) 

Total votes: 36