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Valentino_Rossi_-_Sepang_TestValentino Rossi has grown accustomed to standing on the podium, but today he was satisfied with his 12 place finish during the first official testing session of the 2011 MotoGP season.

“Rarely have I been this happy to finish 12th,” Rossi said.

Rossi is still recovering from the shoulder surgery that he had around Christmas, and his main goal today was to get comfortable with the Ducati GP11. Rossi ventured out onto the track last week for an unofficial testing session aboard the Ducati 1198, and was worried about the condition of his shoulder. Rossi may not have been the fastest rider today, but he was pleased with his progress and feels confident about the 2011 season.

“Rarely have I been this happy with a twelfth place, because after the test at Misano, we were pretty pessimistic considering how bad I felt there,” Rossi said. “It went better here though, especially in the morning, and we were able to do 20, 25 laps at a decent speed. We still have a lot of work to do, but we did a lot today.

“We worked on the riding position, and we’re starting to understand, among the many details that we can adjust on this bike, what the best solutions are. The Ducati’s DNA doesn’t need to be changed; we have to take advantage of the positive aspects and improve the others. Unfortunately, it became more difficult when I lost a lot of strength in the afternoon, but in the end I was able to do about 15 more laps. Let’s say that at the moment, I have quite a bit of pain and not much strength, whereas the opposite would be preferable!

“The hardest parts are the straights and on hard braking into right corners, like Turn 1 and Turn 4; there alone I lose about a second, whereas the rest of the lap is okay because compared to Valencia, I’m able to ride much better. It will be important to be able to rest well tonight in order to regain some mobility so that I can do 30 or 40 laps tomorrow. I’ll have a relaxing massage and put ice on it.”

Rossi’s Ducati teammate Nicky Hayden was happy to be back on the track, but wasn’t too pleased about his lap times. Hayden finished in 13th today, one spot behind Rossi.

“Obviously, being off the pace isn’t how you want to start the first official test, but it’s good to be back out there,” Hayden said. “We had a lot of little things to try, including a new throttle that I liked a lot. The new anti-wheelie was working well, but this isn’t really a track where you notice that a lot.

“We’ve still got a lot more parts to evaluate before we can draw many conclusions. They did a lot over the winter, not just on the bikes, but they’ve really stepped the game up with new tools and equipment in the garage. Everyone is clearly working hard as usual. It was nice to be back on the track, and to be around the team again.”

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

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