Valentino Rossi has defended his decision to switch to Bridgestone tyres, saying he needed the change to boost his motivation.
The Italian seven-time world champion, who used Michelin tyres on his Yamaha in 2007, struggled to match Casey Stoner in the Bridgestone-shod Ducati and announced his switch to the Japanese rubber for 2008.
Rossi made his debut with Bridgestone tyres on Tuesday at Jerez, and the Italian was immediately happy with his progress after posting the third quickest time of the day behind Stoner and Honda's Dani Pedrosa.
"I'm happy, it's a good impression," Rossi told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Naturally we concentrated on tyres with the Bridgestone technicians: it seems to me like they know what they're doing and that they work with a good frame of mind.
"There's still a lot to be done, but third fastest just a few tenths from Stoner is a good initial result: the tyres behave the way I expected.
"I know Bridgestone won't solve all our problems, but we needed this change, it gives us extra motivation. It's not like changing bikes, but it's a way to start over anyway. It's certainly stimulating. We must carry on this way and improve in this test to set up the work for the winter break."
Rossi was also happy to see the tyres performing well after the race in Jerez was dominated by Michelin runners earlier this year.
"It's good, because the test is more significant," he said. "At Jerez the Michelins have always been strong, and in fact Pedrosa and Edwards went quick immediately. I think they're working hard in France to make the situation more balanced, but I'm very happy about the choice we've made.
"With the Bridgestones you need to ride in a slightly different way, change lines, but they seem to be adapting well to the Yamaha.
"This year we've had many problems in the bike-tyres package, especially under acceleration, and now we're looking for more stability.
"I repeat: the start has been positive and we also need to consider that Stoner and Pedrosa are in a better shape than I am. The hand injured in Valencia gives me problems under braking and in left turns: let's say I'm only fit at 90%," added the Italian, who injured his hand in the last race of the season in Valencia.
While Stoner and Pedrosa are already working with their new bikes, Rossi is still testing with this year's machine, but the former champion is still confident Yamaha will make a step forward next year.
"HRC must have made a huge effort, because they've completely re-done the RCV. I followed Pedrosa and the bike seems less nervous and generally much improved.
"Now it's up to us: let's hope we make a step forward. I'm confident, because I see them motivated. We've suffered too much from the rule that limited the fuel tank capacity to 21 litres, and from that aspect we can improve a lot."
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