7 November 2013
Rossi recalls 'strange' 2006 MotoGP title defeat
“Something was wrong, because I was very slow. Something strange happened I think” – Valentino Rossi.
Ahead of this weekend's Valencia title showdown between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi has spoken of his shock defeat in the previous 2006 showdown.
The Italian looked on course for a sixth successive MotoGP title, holding an eight-point lead over Nicky Hayden heading into the final round.
Instead the only championship showdown of Rossi's 18-year grand prix career went against the Yamaha star.
Rossi had qualified on pole, but was only eleventh quickest in morning warm-up then fell early in the race, remounting to finish 13th and losing the title to Hayden by five-points.
“In my career I arrived just one time fighting for the title in the last race of the year,” said the nine time world champion. “I remember that I was a bit worried in 2006, because Valencia is not my favourite track. I had an advantage because I was a bit lucky at Estoril, when Dani and Nicky touched, but already some bad feeling because Elias beat me on the line in Portugal by just 0.002s. I thought 'hmmm those five points for sure are important'.
“But Valencia was a very strange weekend for me because I was flying on Friday and Saturday. I did the pole position but also I was very, very strong in the race pace with the hard tyres. So I was quite relaxed for Sunday. But on Sunday, from the morning, something broken - something was wrong, because I was very slow. Is strange. Something strange happened I think. But anyway also in the race I suffer very much and I did a mistake. Every weekend, every race has a different story.”
Marquez holds a 13-point lead over Rossi's team-mate Lorenzo heading into the 2013 event.
Hayden, who rode a near perfect race in Valencia 2006 to take a safe third and lift his only world title, was asked about Lorenzo's chances of overturning the points deficit to Marquez.
“It's a lot better to be eight points down. Jorge's got a bigger margin, so he needs more to happen,” said Hayden. “But that's what racing's all about. You never know what can happen. The Moto3 championship is really wide open, but also MotoGP.
“You have to line-up. Of course on paper you would think Marc is in a really good spot compared with Jorge. I'd certainly much rather be in his spot than Jorge's - actually I'd rather be in either one of their spots!
“Marc's a smart rider. They say rookie but he's got world championships and a lot of wins. He's not exactly your typical rookie. You'd think without too much problem he could get it done, but you never know until the flag flies on Sunday.
“I think every title should come down to the last race. I've won a couple of other titles and always the ones that went to the last race just mean more, you remember them better. It's nice to win one anyway, with two or three races to go or whatever, but I think it's always a little bit sweeter when you don't know until the last lap.
“That's what we're going to have on Sunday.”
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