Rossi and Viñales used 2016 chassis at Valencia

Valentino Rossi

Factory Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales both reverted to the marque’s 2016 chassis for the Valencia Grand Prix.

Rossi and Viñales qualified seventh and 13th respectively, prompting Movistar Yamaha to change to the same year-old specification of bike which Tech 3’s Johann Zarco had taken to second-fastest in qualifying.

Their only track time on the bikes prior to the race was the morning’s warm-up session.

Rossi said this meant the result would have been “more or less” the same no matter which bike was used, because “it’s quite difficult to try to improve a lot in one day” but felt it was worthwhile trying the 2016 chassis in the race rather than waiting for this week’s two-day test.

“Sometimes in a race you understand more than 10 days of testing,” said Rossi.

“Unfortunately it’s not (the thing) you put on and everything becomes better.

“But I think we understand something interesting. This bike is easier to ride, you feel better in general.”

The Valencia change marked the fourth different frame the two beleaguered factory riders have used across a frustrating 2017 season, statistically Yamaha’s worst for a decade.

Rossi finished the race fifth, dropping him to the same place in the riders’ standings behind race winner Dani Pedrosa, while Viñales could no better than 12th.

A double DNF for Ducati did at least see Yamaha take runner-up in the manufacturers’ standings behind Honda.

Viñales’ already-limited set-up time on the old bike was curtailed by an early crash in warm-up, although he said he was “feeling great” in the two laps he managed prior to that.

“Already on the first lap I did a low 1:32s, second lap I was already one second faster,” said Viñales, who raced for Suzuki last year.

“I was feeling great, maybe I pushed too much and too early, because I was feeling good.

“Anyway, in the race we had some issues with the rear tyre. The feeling I had was that the tyre was not working well, a lot of vibration at the end of the race. I didn’t want to risk more than necessary.

“I felt really great in the morning with the 2016 bike, even only for two laps, I felt better than all the weekend.”

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