Rossi: Yamaha MotoGP team still not strong like in '16 in the wet

Valentino Rossi says Yamaha is still not "strong like last year" in wet conditions after a mixed opening day of MotoGP practice at Sepang

Rossi: Yamaha MotoGP team still not strong like in '16 in the wet

The seven-time premier class champion was sixth-fastest in the wet in Friday's second practice, 1.431 seconds off Ducati's pacesetter Andrea Dovizioso.

Yamaha has struggled in the two most recent wet races, at Misano and Motegi, with Rossi crashing out of the latter and team-mate Maverick Vinales managing no better than ninth.

While Rossi said he felt improvement was made at Sepang, he insisted the team still has work to do in order to recover its former level of competitiveness in similar conditions.

"In the afternoon it was full wet and it was an interesting practice, we worked a lot to improve the bad situation we had in Japan with the bike," he said.

"It was coming better, I was able to improve my lap time and I finished P6.

"But my feeling is not fantastic; I don't feel comfortable with the bike, I do not have enough rear grip and I cannot push at the maximum.

"We still have to work. We are not strong like last year, still."

Rossi was more upbeat about his pace in the dry, despite ending Friday's first practice session with the 12th fastest time, a little under a second slower than Dovizioso.

The Italian said that was down to other riders running a soft rear tyre late in the session.

"My feeling in the dry is not so bad," said Rossi. "We have to work, but I was quite strong.

"It's very difficult to understand [where we are], because in the last eight minutes, a lot of riders put on the soft rear and they improve a lot the lap time.

"Before that, except Marquez who was very strong, I was not so bad with my speed."

Vinales was fastest of the Yamaha contingent in FP2 with the fourth quickest time, and said he was pleased to continue the progress in wet conditions he had started at Phillip Island.

"Still we have to improve in some other areas because the tyres we have here are hard compounds," said the Spaniard.

"But the areas we needed to improve, we improved in Australia - I felt much better with the bike, especially with the front.

"All the confidence going into corners is much better than before. Now we have to make another step and try to improve."

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