Factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi was back to his best today in Mugello as he finished the first day of practice in second place, behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
|Rossi is on the pace at Mugello
Photo: Yamaha Racing
A damp morning session meant few riders ventured out on slicks however the second session brought more favourable conditions in the hills of Tuscany. Hometown hero Valentino Rossi stole delighted fans by spending a large part of the session on top of the timesheets and finishing just a few thousandths behind his Factory Yamaha team mate.
Pressure is on for the Italian who has only finished on the podium once this season. Rossi has a strong record at the Italian circuit with many pundits stating thus as his best chance to return to the top step yet. He’s likely to face a tough challenge though, with the Yamahas of Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow also on the pace.
Local hero Rossi led almost the entire session, consistently shaving time from each lap as he dropped to become the first rider into the 1’48s with 22 minutes to go. Teammate Lorenzo was not far behind and the only rider within a second of the seven-time Mugello winner. The last five minutes of the practice became a battle between the two Factory Yamahas as they swapped positions at the top of the timesheets, Lorenzo eventually taking the top spot at the chequered flag as the clock hit zero with a 1’48.375. Rossi wrapped up just 0.034 seconds behind. Fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow made it a Yamaha top three, the next riders a full second behind.
“I’m happy because it’s a very good practice today, starting from the beginning, staying at the top. It’s very good for the team as we are in first and second and for Yamaha because we have three Yamahas on the first three positions. Already the lap time is not so bad but we have to stay focused and concentrate for tomorrow because for sure our opponents will improve a lot. We have to make another step to improve and go faster to fight for a good position in the race.”