Valentino Rossi is the new leader of the MotoGP World Championship following his runner-up finish in Texas after team-mate Maverick Vinales dramatically slid out.
New MotoGP World Championship leader Valentino Rossi admits his consistent start to the 2017 season has taken him by surprise.
Ross finished as the runner-up at the Circuit of the Americas behind Marc Marquez to seal his third straight rostrum finish, taking over the title lead from team-mate Maverick Vinales, who slid out of the race in Texas.
Following a frustrating time with the 2017 YZR-M1 during testing, Rossi says his solid start to the championship has been unexpected.
“It's a big surprise, especially for us because after the test we were quite desperate and tried to think, use the old bike and everything, but we did the right choice. The problem for me and my team is that we needed more time to understand this bike, the way to ride and the way to set,” Rossi said. “But the bike has something positive, especially at the end of the races and I am able to push and be strong. In fact, in Argentina with Cal [Crutchlow] and here with Dani [Pedrosa], I can attack. Last year I was always very fast at the beginning and after I suffer a lot.
“It is just three races and for sure it will be very hard to remain in this position, especially with Vinales and Marquez because they are always very fast, but already this is great.”
The Movistar Yamaha rider is still chasing his first win of the championship but says he is happy to keep finishing in the top three for now.
“For me when I start one season, the first target is to try to win a race and this year is the same. Like I say before, to stay at the top with Vinales and Marquez will be very hard, but we have to enjoy the moment. It's really good like this and now we go back to Europe and we arrive at a very good part of the championship because of Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Barcelona, Assen – where for me it is a great feeling to race there because they are tracks that give to me fantastic memories, that are very enjoyable with the MotoGP.
“The atmosphere is the real MotoGP World Championship but apart from that, we have to continue like this, stay concentrated and try the maximum.”
Rossi opted to use the medium rear Michelin on his Yamaha and says it proved the correct decision after he had deliberated over whether or not to run the hard tyre.
“Already Friday was not so bad, the base setting; yesterday the conditions were very bad but in the qualifying we improved. [It was] very much about the balance between the front and rear and it looks like it is very important to find. This morning in the warm-up I had already more or less the same pace with the hard rear, so it was very difficult to make a decision.
“In the end I put a medium rear and it was the right decision because it think it is better for our bike. We worked after the warm-up and it gives me a small advantage in the fast parts. In section one I was always in trouble but in the race I was not too bad.”
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